US rejects criticism, says no sanctions on India’s Russian oil purchases

WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – Given the outcry in some US media and among politicians criticizing India for buying oil from Russia, President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki clarified that its imports were tiny and that the energy payments were not subject to US sanctions.

“At the moment, just to give everyone a complete idea, India’s Russian energy imports are only 1-2% of their total energy imports,” she said during the interview. a briefing here on April 4th.

PSAKI also clarified that “given some reports, energy payments are not sanctioned; it is a decision made by each country”.

She clarified while answering a reporter’s question: If “as part of this new effort to tighten sanctions, will the administration step up pressure on China and India to they respect the existing sanctions?

Unlike India, Germany imports around 55% of its huge gas needs from Russia in addition to buying coal from it, but it has escaped the criticisms or snide questions that have plagued India.

Other European Union countries that import Russian energy have also been exempt from criticism or demands to immediately stop imports.

Given India’s central role in the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy and its attempts to reduce China’s influence, Washington has generally supported New Delhi despite its neutrality on the Russian invasion of India. Ukraine and its purchases in Moscow.

“We have also been very clear that each country is going to make its own choices, even though we have made the decision and other countries have made the decision to ban energy imports,” Psaki added.

In another indication of this policy, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby deflected questions about sanctions on India over the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumf missile defense system, instead drawing attention to the diversification of New Delhi’s defense purchases.

“We remain encouraged by India’s continued diversification of its defense equipment over the past decade,” he said during a Pentagon briefing April 4.

Psaki said US Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh had offered to help India reduce the tiny amount of oil it imports from Russia.

During her talks with Indian officials last week in New Delhi, Singh “made it clear that we would be happy to be a partner in reducing their reliance or even their low percentage reliance on this,” she said. .

But he also told Indian officials that it was not in their country’s interest to increase imports from Russia, she said.

“While he both explained the mechanics of our sanctions and reiterated that any country or entity should abide by them, we also made it clear that we would be happy to be a partner in reducing their reliance or even low percentage of ï ¿½ to rely on that,” PSAki added.

At the Pentagon briefing, Kirby was asked if the Biden administration would issue sanctions against India if it operationalizes the S-400 system, which began arriving in India in November.

“I have nothing to tell you about the sanctions. We have been very clear with our Indian partners about our concerns regarding this purchase and have encouraged them, as we encourage many others, not to purchase Russian equipment.

Noting the diversification of New Delhi’s defense purchases, he added: “We will continue to have this conversation with the Indians.”

When asked if the S-400 would be incompatible with India being in the Quad, Kirby said, “I think we’ve been very clear to India our concern about this particular purchase. We have been very clear about this.

The Quad is the four-nation group of India, the United States, Japan and Australia trying to coordinate their strategies to secure a free Indo-Pacific region where China has stepped up its aggressive posture.

When a reporter tried to draw a parallel with Turkey, a NATO member who was being sanctioned for buying the S-400 system, Kirby said, “And we expressed the same concerns to them and that’s why we had to make a decision on the F-35 (advanced fighter aircraft).

“Because we think that capability, that air defense capability was fundamentally incompatible with them also having F-35s. And we’ve been very clear with our Turkish allies as well.

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