EAM Jaishankar's ‘smart' answer to question on India-Russia ties, Blinken smiles | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

EAM S Jaishankar's ‘smart' answer to question on India-Russia ties, Antony Blinken smiles

Feb 18, 2024 01:04 PM IST

S Jaishankar was speaking on sidelines of the Munich conference as he stood alongside US's Antony Blinken and Germany's Annalena Baerbock.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Saturday asserted that India should not be criticised for having multiple options and reaffirmed its stand and commitment to buy Russian oil despite respective sanctions on Moscow amid the ongoing war with Ukraine.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken, right, speaks with external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany,(AP)
US secretary of state Antony Blinken, right, speaks with external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany,(AP)

Speaking on the sidelines of the Munich conference as he stood alongside US secretary of state Antony Blinken and German foreign affairs minister Annalena Baerbock, S Jaishankar expanded on India's bilateral relationship balance with Washington DC and Moscow amid an escalating diplomatic stand-off between the two global powers.

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Asked about India's foreign policy priorities in the backdrop of observations that it is traversing from "non-alignment to all alignment", S Jaishankar replied, “Is that a problem, why should that be a problem? If I am smart enough to have multiple options, you should be admiring me. Is that a problem for others? I don't think so, suddenly in this case. We try to explain what are the different pulls and pressures that countries have. it's very hard to have that unidimensional relationship.”

While putting the question, the moderator specifically mentioned India's continuing procurement of crude oil from Russia notwithstanding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Antony Blinken was seen smiling as J Jaishankar made the statement.

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"I do not want you, even inadvertently, to give the impression that we are purely and unsentimentally transactional. We are not. We get along with people, we believe in things, we share things, ...but there are times when you are located in different places, different levels of development, different experiences, all of that gets into it," Jaishankar explained.

He added, “So life is complicated, life is differentiated… Good partners provide choices, smart partners take some of those choices.”

The 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC) got underway an in-person event from February 16-18, at its traditional venue, the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, according to an official statement.

This year's conference is being held under the chairmanship of the German ambassador to the US Christoph Heusgen.

Jaishankar also sought to project India as 'non-West', having extremely strong relations with Western countries that are getting stronger.

"I think, it's important today to make a distinction, between being non-West and anti-West, I'd not only characterize India as a country, which is non-West but which has an extremely strong relation with the Western countries, getting better by the days. Not everybody necessarily in that grouping might qualify for that description, but the contribution the BRICS has made, if one looks at G7 and how it evolved into the G20," he said.

"I think in a way, those additional 13 members who came into this bigger grouping, 5 of them are BRICS members, the fact that there was another group which was meeting regularly and discussing at the meeting, I think certainly was input into the expansion of G7 into the G20. So, I think we did our service to the world," the EAM added.

In 2023, Russia supplied more than 35 per cent of India's total crude imports, equating to around 1.7 million barrels per day, as reported by S&P Global Commodity Insights.

According to reports, Russia's oil exports in March 2023 surged to their highest level since April 2020 in physical terms, driven by increased oil product supplies. Export revenues also climbed by USD 1 billion compared to February, reaching USD 12.7 billion, as per TASS, a Russian news agency.

(With inputs from agencies)

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