New Delhi: Russian Ambassador Denis Alipov said on Sunday that India’s criticism of Western countries over importing Russian crude oil while absolving themselves of their “own illegal sanctions” is a reflection of their unscrupulous stance and double standards. In an exclusive interview to news agency PTI, the ambassador said that trade between India and Russia is growing and both sides have several payment systems and the option of using third country currencies with certain “partners”. Offering viable options in Asia and the Middle East.
Historically, Russia has not been a major source of fossil fuels for India but imports of discounted Russian crude oil have grown sharply in the past few months, despite growing unrest in many Western capitals.
“Those who criticize India in the West are not only silent on the fact that they themselves have actively bought Russian energy resources by exempting them from illegal sanctions, but they clearly demonstrate their unprincipled position and double standards while claiming otherwise,” Alipov said.
Europe has ‘totally lost’ its independent voice
The ambassador said Europe had “totally lost” its independent voice while “appeasing” US ambitions for power and was now trying to maintain its economic well-being by triggering energy price hikes in the rest of the world. “Why should India pay for this,” Alipov asked.
The ambassador also suggested that the Western sanctions against Moscow had no impact on India-Russia trade and said that the trade volume in the first six months of this year had recorded 11.1 billion US dollars (one billion = 100 crores), which was about 13 billion US dollars in 2021.
“We have every reason to believe that by the end of this year we will reach a historic record, and it is not only because of the large-scale supply of hydrocarbons that has increased more than 10 times,” he said.
Speaking about several payment systems for bilateral trade, Alipov said that one of them is using the national currency, with over 40 percent of trade volume in the national currency in recent years.
“Recently the Reserve Bank of India has issued a special circular, which expands the use of the rupee in international trade. This is another step to support the option for the trading community to exercise invoicing, payment and settlement operations in the national currency,” Alipov said.
“Secondly, there is a system of using third country currencies with viable options proposed by our partners in Asia and the Middle East. We also see immense potential in establishing the BRICS International Reserve Fund,” he said.
Alipov said that Russian companies and banks, which have not been sanctioned, can still engage in economic activities using US dollars and euros.
“As for the impact of Western sanctions, their side effects were clearly miscalculated both politically and economically. Rising fuel and food prices have accelerated global inflation and put even advanced economies at risk of falling into recession,” he said.
The ambassador said there was an “incredible potential” for trade in Russia, with political reasons rendering “huge space” after the “reluctant” withdrawal of many Western companies.
Growing interest from Russia, India to diversify trade ties
Alipov said there is growing interest from both Russia and India to further diversify trade ties by taking advantage of “emerging opportunities”.
“The overall objective is to complement each other’s economic strategies as both our countries aim to increase the level of self-reliance and are keen to explore new markets facilitated by sustainable processes of financial transactions and logistics,” he said.
On India’s oil procurement from Russia, Alipov said New Delhi has consistently maintained that its approach is based on its national interests and reflects the needs of the growing Indian economy and the welfare of its people.
“As for the impact of Western sanctions, clearly their side effects were miscalculated both politically and economically,” he said.
Asked about India’s position on the Ukraine crisis, the ambassador said Russia respects and appreciates New Delhi’s consistent position based on a solid foundation of international law and a strategic view of national interests.
He said the best feature of Russia’s strategic partnership with India is that it is not directed against anyone.
“We also feel that there is a deep understanding in Indian society about the origins of the Ukrainian crisis which started long before February 2022,” he said.
India has not yet criticized Russia’s attack on Ukraine and has been saying that the crisis should be resolved through dialogue.
“Achieving undivided security, equal multi-polarity and democratization of global governance are our collective aspirations when efforts to stem these natural trends by exercising dictates and unilateralism in the name of shared values are a thing of the past,” he said.