Narendra Modi-led country had been taking advantage of the Russian offer of discounted oil ‘in national interest’ says Ukraine
Ukrainian foreign minister Dymtro Kuleba on Tuesday publicly accused India of taking advantage of “Russia’s aggression” against his country Ukraine to shore up India’s oil reserves, accusing New Delhi of benefiting from the suffering of his compatriots.
Kuleba also questioned India’s insistence on describing as the “war in Ukraine” what Ukrainians see as “Russian aggression against Ukraine”.
He suggested that the least India could do while benefiting from “our suffering” was to help his country more. India has extended some humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since February 24, when the war began.
Kuleba’s comments came in an interview to NDTV a day after external affairs minister S. Jaishankar underlined that India’s oil imports from Russia still remained a fraction of the European Union’s purchase of Russian fossil fuel.
Kuleba said: “It is not enough just to point fingers at the European Union and say, ‘Oh, they are doing the same thing’, because the core reason of India’s opportunity to save money on oil and to buy more cheap oil and to solve its problems is not the fact that Europeans are buying Russian oil. It is the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from Russia’s war and dying because of it.”
India has increased its oil purchases from Russia since the war began in Ukraine, taking advantage of the Russian offer of discounted oil “in national interest”.
Kuleba said: “The opportunity for India to buy Russian oil at a cheap price comes from the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from the Russian aggression and dying every day. They live in houses without heating, hot water, and without electricity. This fact we hope should be appreciated by those who make decisions to buy Russian oil.”
The minister said that Ukraine was equally critical of any country — in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else — that was buying Russian oil in large quantities because Russia was using the money made from this trade to finance the war and kill Ukrainians.
Jaishankar had said on Monday: “Between February 24 and November 17, the EU imported more fossil fuel from Russia than the next 10 countries combined. The oil import in the EU is six times what India imports; gas is infinite times because we don’t import it whereas the EU has imported gas worth 50 billion euros. Even coal imports from Russia by the EU is 50 percent more than what India has imported.”
This is not the first time Jaishankar has blamed western capitals for engaging in doublespeak about India’s oil purchases from Russia while the European Union continues to buy larger amounts of Russian oil, gas, and coal.
While several countries opposed to Russia’s war against Ukraine had mounted public pressure on India in the early days to cut back on Russian oil purchases, that open prodding has eased in recent months. Kuleba had earlier too accused India of taking advantage of the crisis facing his country.
In August, he had said at a news conference: “When India purchases Russian crude oil, they have to understand that the discount is paid by Ukrainian blood. Every barrel of Russian crude that India gets has Ukrainian blood in it. We are friendly and open to India. Ukraine supported the evacuation of Indian students. We expected more practical support from India to Ukraine.”