AP

Biden urges Modi not to step up Indian use of Russian oil

Apr 10, 2022, 9:09 PM | Updated: Apr 12, 2022, 1:09 pm

President Joe Biden meets virtually with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the South Court Aud...

President Joe Biden meets virtually with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, Monday, April 11, 2022. Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh is center, Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is right. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden asked India’s Narendra Modi on Monday not to accelerate the buying of Russian oil as the U.S. and other nations try to cut off Moscow’s energy income following the invasion of Ukraine. The Indian prime minister made no public commitment to refrain from Russian oil, a source of tension with the U.S.

Meeting by video call, Biden told Modi that the U.S. could help India diversify its sources of energy, according to press secretary Jen Psaki. Even though India receives little of its oil from Russia, it stepped up recently with a major purchase as other democracies are trying to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The president also made clear that he doesn’t believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy or other commodities,” Psaki said.

At a separate State Department news conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar pointedly suggested that Europe, not India, be the focus of Washington’s concern about energy purchases from Russia.

“I suspect, looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon,” he said.

While Biden and Modi ended their session with Biden saying they committed to strengthening their relationship, White House officials could not say if India stood with them in fully condemning Putin, saying the choice ultimately rested with Modi’s government. The two leaders will meet in person May 24 in Tokyo for a summit of the Quad, a coalition that also includes Australia and Japan.

At the State Department news conference, Blinken appeared to seek to cajole India into taking a stronger stance on the conflict in Ukraine, appealing to the country’s interest in upholding the international rules-based order and pointing out that resource-stretched Indians may be affected by both energy and food shortages caused by the war.

“Russia’s aggression stands in stark contrast to the vision that the United States and India share for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and Russia’s actions are having a profound impact not just in Europe and Ukraine, but around the world, for example, causing food insecurity and rising prices,” Blinken told reporters after the meetings concluded.

India’s neutral stance in the war has raised concerns in Washington and earned praise from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who lauded India this month for judging “the situation in its entirety, not just in a one-sided way.”

Biden opened the video conversation by emphasizing the defense partnership between the two countries and by saying the U.S. and India are going to “continue our close consultation on how to manage the destabilizing effects of this Russian war” on food and other commodities.

“The root of our partnership is a deep connection between our people, ties of family, of friendship and of shared values,” the U.S. president said.

Modi on Monday called the situation in Ukraine “very worrying,” and he noted that an Indian student lost his life during the war. He said he has spoken with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appealing to both of them for peace. India has condemned the killings uncovered in the city of Bucha and has called for an independent investigation.

A senior U.S. official described the Biden-Modi exchange as warm and productive, though the official stressed that India would make its own decisions on how to respond to Putin. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss the meeting.

Biden and Modi discussed how to manage the risks of global instability regarding food, humanitarian relief and climate change, and Modi candidly shared his views about some of the tight links between Russia and China that raise concerns, the official said.

Also Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met in person with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Austin appealed to India to act together with fellow democracies, a form of government based on the popular consent of the people that stands in contrast to autocracies such as China and Russia.

“Now more than ever, democracies must stand together to defend the values that we all share,” Austin said.

India has refrained from some efforts to hold Russia accountable for its invasion. India abstained when the U.N. General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council over allegations that Russian soldiers in Ukraine engaged in rights violations that the U.S. and Ukraine have called war crimes.

The vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

India continues to purchase Russian energy supplies, despite pressure from Western countries to avoid buying Russian oil and gas. The U.S. has also considered sanctions on India for its recent purchase of advanced Russian air defense systems.

Last month, the state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude from Russia to secure its needs, resisting entreaties from the West to avoid such purchases. India isn’t alone in buying Russian energy, however. Several European allies such as Germany have continued to do so, despite public pressure to end these contracts.

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

Iraq is India’s top supplier, with a 27% share. Saudi Arabia is second at around 17%, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 13% and the U.S. at 9%, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

___

Sharma reported from New Delhi. AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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

AP

President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

8 hours ago

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant to serve indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

1 day ago

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

2 days ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

2 days ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

3 days ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Biden urges Modi not to step up Indian use of Russian oil