OPINIONS West barking up wrong tree in New Delhi


West barking up wrong tree in New Delhi

China Daily

20:12, December 07, 2022

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar attends a news conference following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, Nov 8, 2022.(Photo: Agencies)

India's close relationship with Russia, especially in terms of energy cooperation, was reportedly top of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's agenda during her two-day visit to New Delhi that started on Monday.

Since the Russia-Ukraine conflict started, India has steadily increased its imports of Russian oil, which hit a record high in October. The country has also not committed to the $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil set by the G7 major industrialized countries and the European Union, a move that aims to limit Moscow's fossil fuel earnings while also preventing price spikes in the global market.

The hope held by some Western countries that India will change course and help them with their sanctions against Russia was once again dashed. Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made it clear after his talks with Baerbock that India will prioritize its own energy needs and continue to buy oil from Russia.

Moreover, he highlighted Western hypocrisy on the issue of energy by pointing out that "the European Union, between February 24 and November 17, has imported more fossil fuel from Russia than the next 10 countries combined".

The oil the EU imports from Russia is about six times the amount India imports, and the EU imports infinitely more gas because India doesn't import gas, Jaishankar said at a media briefing on Monday, adding that even the EU's coal imports from Russia are 50 percent more than India's.

The remarks, which might sound somewhat blunt to the ears of his visiting guest who had hoped to persuade India to join the United States and its Western allies in isolating Russia, reflect the resolve of New Delhi to safeguard its own energy security despite the increasing pressure being applied by the West.

They also serve as an expression of dissatisfaction with certain countries trying to dictate how India should behave on a key issue related to its national interests. When trying to press India to take their side, the Western countries are obviously ignoring the principles of equality and mutual respect, which are the cornerstones of bilateral relations.

Indeed, given the role it has played in the Non-Aligned Movement and its tradition of foreign policy independence, India has not, and will never become a yes-man of other countries in exchange for small favors. It has so far abstained from United Nations resolutions critical of Russia over the ongoing conflict, despite US President Joe Biden having criticized it for being "somewhat shaky" in acting against Russia.

"Do unto others as you would like them to do to you". That golden rule should also apply in state-to-state relations.

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