Russian oil sale to India complicates Biden’s efforts

Mar 18, 2022, 8:55 AM | Updated: Mar 19, 2022, 11:21 am
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits with senior Bhartiya Janata Party attend parliamentary com...

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits with senior Bhartiya Janata Party attend parliamentary committee meeting in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s campaign to unite the globe against the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being challenged not only by adversaries such as China but also by the world’s most populous democracy, India.

An Indian government official said Friday that the country will increase its imports of Russian oil, allowing it to boost energy supplies at a discount as its economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The official, who was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the latest purchase was 3 million barrels.

Although India isn’t alone in buying Russian energy — several European allies such as Germany have continued to do so — the decision conflicts with Biden’s efforts to isolate Russia’s economy with sanctions.

The increased flow of oil could further strain the relationship between Washington and New Delhi, which has already been tested by India’s recent procurement of advanced Russian air defense systems.

The White House is still considering whether to enact sanctions on India for that purchase. The issue is being looked at with a “different spin” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a U.S. official familiar with the Biden administration’s deliberations. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal decision-making.

The oil deal is a reminder of how the war in Ukraine has created a complicated geopolitical balancing act for Biden. Even as he tries to rally countries to oppose Russia’s invasion, he also sees India as a critical partner for countering China’s rising influence in Asia.

Russia has long been a point of friction in U.S.-India relations, but the White House believes the two democracies have more that’s in common than that divides them.

India is a member of the Quad, an international partnership that also includes the U.S., Australia and Japan, and the leaders of all four nations are slated to meet this year in Tokyo.

Although Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a checkered record on human rights, he was invited to participate in Biden’s virtual summit on democracy in December.

During the summit, Biden described the struggle between democracy and autocracy as the “defining challenge of our time.” Modi said that India “stands ready to join fellow democracies in this noble endeavor.”

The White House has publicly warned China against siding with Russia during the war in Ukraine, but it has been more circumspect when addressing India’s role.

Asked Friday about India’s oil purchase, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that even though the U.S. has banned the import of Russian oil, “every country has not made that decision.”

“They have different economic reasoning,” she said. However, she cautioned other countries that “the rest of the world is watching where you’re going to stand as it relates to this conflict.”

Imports make up 85% of India’s oil needs, and its overall demand is projected to jump 8.2% to 5.15 million barrels per day this year.

Indian media reports said that Russia was offering a 20% discount on oil purchases below global benchmark prices.

“We are exploring all possibilities in the global energy market,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Thursday. “I don’t think Russia has been a major oil supplier to India.”

India’s relationship with Russia revolves more around defense than energy. Russia provides only a small fraction of India’s oil but the majority of its military hardware.

“It’s critical for India’s military readiness, especially as they have an ongoing border crisis with China,” said Richard Rossow, an expert on the U.S.-India relationship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is based in Washington. Twenty Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers died less than two years ago in an ongoing territorial dispute over eastern Ladakh.

India abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote condemning the invasion of Ukraine, and the Russian embassy in New Dehli responded by saying it “highly appreciate(s) India’s independent and balanced position.”

Ken Juster, a former U.S. ambassador to India, said the South Asian nation “believes in strategic autonomy” and is unlikely to line up neatly on either side in conflicts between the East and the West.

However, he expects New Delhi to face additional pressure as the war in Ukraine continues.

“India is going to face an increasingly challenging situation as Russia’s atrocities become more apparent and more widespread,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult for any country not to come out and condemn this.”

Biden has described the situation as a work in progress.

Shortly after Russia’s invasion began, Biden was asked if India is “fully in sync” with the U.S. on Russia.

He responded that “we’re in consultation” with India, adding that “we haven’t resolved that completely.”

___

Sharma reported from New Delhi. AP writer Aamer Madhani contributed from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              President Joe Biden speaks at an event to celebrate the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
            
              Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits with senior Bhartiya Janata Party attend parliamentary committee meeting in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

AP

FILE - The seal of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System is displayed ...
Associated Press

Wyoming crypto bank’s Federal Reserve application denied

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Federal Reserve Board has denied a Wyoming cryptocurrency bank’s application for Federal Reserve System membership, officials announced Friday, dealing a setback to the crypto industry’s attempts to build acceptance in mainstream U.S. banking. Many in crypto have been looking to Cheyenne-based Custodia Bank’s more than 2-year-old application as a bellwether […]
17 hours ago
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Senior Airmen Andrew Whitener and Tyler Glodgett 341s...
Associated Press

Nuclear strike chief seeks cancer review of launch officers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Air Force general in charge of the nation’s air- and ground-launched nuclear missiles has requested an official investigation into the number of officers who are reporting blood cancer diagnoses after serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The illnesses became publicly known this week after The Associated Press obtained […]
17 hours ago
FILE - An Amazon Fresh grocery store stands in Warrington, Pa., on Feb. 4, 2022. In an email to Pri...
Associated Press

Amazon axes free grocery delivery on Prime orders under $150

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is axing free grocery delivery for Prime members on orders less than $150. Customers who get their groceries delivered from Amazon Fresh — and pay less than $150 — will be charged between $3.95 and $9.95, depending on the order size, the company said in an email to Prime members […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill during New Year ce...
Associated Press

Fitch ups Greece’s rating to a notch below investment grade

NEW YORK (AP) — Credit ratings company Fitch has raised Greece’s credit rating to one notch below investment grade. In a report issued Friday, Fitch estimates that Greece’s deficit will shrink to 1.8% of its gross domestic product in 2024 from an estimated 3.8% last year. “There is some uncertainty around fiscal policies after the […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Thursday, Dec. 1, ...
Associated Press

Usain Bolt fires business manager over Jamaica fraud case

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt told reporters Friday that he is baffled over how $12.7 million of his money has gone missing from a local private investment firm that authorities are investigating as part of a massive fraud that began more than a decade ago. Bolt also said he has […]
17 hours ago
This image taken from video provided by the NAOJ & Asahi Shimbun, shows spiral swirling through the...
Associated Press

Camera captures night sky spiral after SpaceX rocket launch

HONOLULU (AP) — A camera atop Hawaii’s tallest mountain has captured what looks like a spiral swirling through the night sky. Researchers believe it was from the launch of a military GPS satellite that lifted off earlier on a SpaceX rocket in Florida. The images were captured on Jan. 18 by a camera at the […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Russian oil sale to India complicates Biden’s efforts