‘If I’m smart enough…’: Jaishankar doubles down on India buying Russian oil


External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has firmly defended India’s decision to buy Russian oil despite Western sanctions, stating it shouldn’t be a concern for others.

During a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Jaishankar was asked about India’s balancing act between its growing ties with the United States and continuing trade with Russia. In his typical no-nonsense style, he 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.”

Flanked by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock, Jaishankar stated that it is unrealistic to expect countries to maintain unidimensional relationships in today’s interconnected world.

The Foreign Minister’s comments come against the backdrop of the West’s disapproval of India’s continued oil trade with Russia amidst the latter’s conflict with Ukraine. Last year, he had sharply repudiated such criticism by pointing out the disparity in Europe’s oil purchases from Russia compared to India’s, arguing that India’s monthly purchase of Russian oil is less than what Europe buys in an afternoon.

Jaishankar stated that India had made its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict amply clear by repeatedly advocating for dialogue, diplomacy, and an immediate cessation of violence.

He also acknowledged the differences between India’s relationships with the US and Russia.

“Different countries and different relationships have different histories… We are not purely unsentimentally transactional… I don’t want you to even inadvertently give the impression that we are purely unsentimentally transactional. We are not, we get along with peopleâ€æ But sometimes, there will be choices, you say I’ll pass on that,” he said.

Pushing back against critics who seek to portray India as “anti-West”, Jaishankar distinguished New Delhi as “non-West” but deeply engaged with Western countries.

“It’s important today to make a distinction, between being non-West and anti-West, I’d not only characterise India as a country, which is non-West but which has an extremely strong relation with the Western countries, getting better by the days,” he detailed.

Published By:

Devika Bhattacharya

Published On:

Feb 18, 2024





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