‘Let’s be impartial’: Jaishankar denounces Europe’s criticism of India’s oil trade with Russia. Key points

Outlining India’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian war, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday that Europe needed to get out of the mindset that “its problems are the problems of the world”.

Addressing the 2022 GLOBESEC Forum in Bratislava, Slovakia, Jaishankar rejected the European conception that New Delhi’s stance on Ukraine could impact the global support it enjoys if its troubles with Beijing escalate.

He also claimed that India was not making foreign policy choices of a “cynical or transactional” nature.

Key points to know:

  • Jaishankar slammed Europe for its consistent criticism of India for buying Russian oil even as he questioned the US decision not to lift sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan oil.
  • He asked if it is only Indian money and oil coming to India that is funding the Russian war. “Today, Europe is buying [Russian] oil, Europe buys [Russian] gas. The new sanctions package is designed to take into account the well-being of its people. People need to understand that if you can be considerate of yourself, surely you can be considerate of others,” he said.
  • “Why don’t European and Western countries and the United States, why don’t they allow Iranian oil on the market, why don’t they allow Venezuelan oil to come on the market? They squeezed every other source of oil we have and then said you won’t go to market and get the best deal for people, that’s not a fair approach,” Jaishankar said. .
  • He also denied reports of transshipment of Russian fuel from India. “Understand the oil market there is a huge shortage of oil, there is a physical shortage of oil, access to oil is difficult, a country like India would be crazy to get oil from anyone another and selling it to someone else is nonsense,” Jaishankar said.
  • He defended and justified the recent decision to reduce wheat exports. He said Indian wheat was stored and used for speculative trading. “Low-income countries, many of which are traditional buyers like our neighbors Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and especially the Gulf, buy from us regularly. Yemen is buying us, Sudan is buying us, what we have seen is that low income buyers have been squeezed out, the wheat was actually stored to be traded, so our goodwill was used for speculation,” did he declare.
  • Amid persistent efforts by European countries to convince India to take a firm stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Jaishankar said Europe must come out of the mindset that its problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.
  • On arguments that New Delhi might face a similar challenge from China in the future, Jaishankar said, “As far as the connection you are making, we have a difficult relationship with China and we we are perfectly capable of handling it. If I get global understanding and support, that will obviously help me.”
  • Jaishankar said Europe was also silent on many developments in Asia. “If I were to take Europe as a whole, which has been singularly quiet about a lot of things that were happening, for example in Asia, one might wonder why anyone in Asia would trust Europe on what whatever,” he said.
  • He said that India’s position in terms of the Ukrainian conflict is very clear, that it wants a de-escalation of tensions. “Regarding what is happening with the Ukrainian conflict, our position is very clear: we support an immediate cessation of hostilities. It is not that we have ignored it unless you call (Vladimir ) Putin and (Volodymyr) Zelensky as ignorant of something,” he says.

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Mary I. Bruner