Ties with Europe, US, seen ups and downs, but Russia never hurt us: Jaishankar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ties with Europe, US, seen ups and downs, but Russia never hurt us: Jaishankar

Feb 20, 2024 09:27 PM IST

India had no option but to procure Russian crude when its energy suppliers in West Asia gave priority to selling petroleum to Europe, which paid higher prices

NEW DELHI: India is open to mediating between Russia and Ukraine if it is approached to do so but does not believe that it should initiate any efforts to end the conflict between the two countries on its own, external affairs minister S Jaishankar has said.

External affairs minister S. Jaishankar (PTI)
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar (PTI)

The Indian side had no option but to procure Russian crude when New Delhi’s energy suppliers in West Asia gave priority to providing petroleum to Europe, which paid higher prices, following the Ukraine conflict, Jaishankar said in an interview with the German economic daily Handelsblatt.

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Asked if India could be a mediator in the conflict, he replied: “Theoretically, yes. We have already helped with very specific issues. When Turkey negotiated the [grain] corridor through the Black Sea, for example. And we were very supportive of the inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.

“Wherever we can help, we are happy to do so. We are open when we are approached. However, we do not believe that we should initiate anything in this direction on our own.”

India is “deeply convinced, and...publicly committed to bringing the conflict to an end”. He said, “Everyone is suffering from this conflict. I don’t know exactly how it will end, we’re not deep enough into the process to know.”

India has consistently called for an end to the hostilities in Ukraine and a return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy by both countries, though it has not publicly censured Russia’s actions since the war began nearly two years ago. In the face of considerable pressure from the West, India also ramped up the purchase of discounted Russian crude.

“When the fighting started in Ukraine, Europe shifted a large part of its energy procurement to the Middle East – until then the main supplier for India and other countries...In many cases, our Middle East suppliers gave priority to Europe because Europe paid higher prices,” Jaishankar said.

“If no one had bought the crude oil from Russia and everyone had bought the crude oil from the other countries, prices on the energy market would have shot up even further,” he said, adding that India’s actions stabilised the energy market.

Asked if India’s relationship with Russia is a burden on the country’s ties with Europe, Jaishankar said, “If I look at the history of India post-independence, Russia has never hurt our interests. The relations of powers like Europe, the US, China or Japan with Russia, they have all seen ups and downs. We have had a stable and always very friendly relationship with Russia.”

India also had a “politically and militarily much more difficult relationship with China”, he said. He also said that just as he didn’t “expect Europe to have a view of China that is identical to mine, Europe should understand that I cannot have a view of Russia that is identical to the European one”.

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