With exports worth US$1.3 billion in April, Russia is now India’s fourth largest oil supplier. Other major imports this month included coal, soybean and sunflower oils, fertilizers and non-industrial diamonds.
The balance of Indian imports from sanctions-hit Russia rose 3.5-fold to $2.3 billion in a year in April on the back of rising crude oil purchases, according to data from the Commerce Department.
In April, Indian crude oil imports from Russia were worth US$1.3 billion, accounting for around 57 percent of total Indian imports from Russia. Other major imports this month included coal, soybean and sunflower oils, fertilizers and non-industrial diamonds.
During the month, Russia was also India’s fourth-biggest supplier of crude oil after Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In terms of total imports, Russia was the sixth largest import partner in April. In the same month last year, Russia was still India’s seventh largest supplier of crude oil and ranked 21st overall among all Indian import partners.
Russia was also India’s ninth largest trading partner (i.e. in terms of exports and imports) in April with a trade volume of US$2.42 billion. This is despite the fact that the value of exports to Russia fell to $96 million in April, down 59 percent from a year earlier. The main goods exported to Russia this month included electrical machinery and equipment, iron and steel, pharmaceutical products, marine products and automobile parts.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24, crude oil imports from Russia to India have increased. The war was followed by economic sanctions against Russia by the US and its allies to isolate the country from world trade, leading to a global spike in commodity prices.
Despite pressure from Western states, India did not choose sides in this trade war and maintained a neutral stance given its historical ties with Russia. India has also been criticized for continuing trade with Russia in the first place, despite the imposition of economic sanctions.
India has defended its position in various international forums, stating that petroleum products are not subject to Western countries’ sanctions and New Delhi has always sought to diversify its energy sources.
Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said at a press conference on the occasion of the 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue in April:
“When it comes to energy purchases from Russia, one should focus on Europe. We buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security. But when I look at the numbers, I suspect that our total purchases for a month are less than that, what Europe does in an afternoon.”
Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said at the World Economic Forum last month that India is operating within the current framework put in place by the sanctions-imposing countries:
“Our interests or needs are no different from those of European countries. In the current situation, where inflation is at an all-time high and people all over the world are under stress, the EU and European countries continue to buy larger quantities than India ever intends to buy.”
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