It was just a virtual meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden that took place on Monday. Nonetheless, it was a highlight of weeks of diplomatic visits to Delhi. This was, of course, again about the energy deals that India is currently making with Russia.
“President Biden will continue our close consultations on the consequences of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and on mitigating its destabilizing impact on global food supply and commodity markets,” said Secretary Biden. press Jen Psaki in a statement Sunday in Washington before the meeting. It took place a few days after the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during which vast economic agreements had been concluded. Attention from the United States and the rest of the world is generally appreciated in Delhi. Seen in this light, the past few weeks have been satisfying, as rarely have so many Western diplomats been in town in such a short time to lure India into their own ranks.
Delhi is trying to be neutral on the Russian file, which is becoming more and more difficult. Especially since you seek solidarity with the United States when it comes to opposing China. However, Delhi is at least as dependent on Russian arms supplies as Europe is on Russian gas. India and China have been at loggerheads in the Himalayas for two years. The two giant countries have stationed 100,000 troops there in the mountains, and Russia’s weapons are also needed for this conflict. In the past, Delhi would have liked more Western influence in negotiations with China, which is becoming increasingly aggressive in the region.
India is the world’s third largest oil importer
Daleep Singh, deputy US security adviser for the international economy, who is considered the architect of international sanctions against Moscow, was in Delhi shortly before Lavrov. After the talks, he said there were no “red lines” for energy imports, but he didn’t want to see a “rapid acceleration” in purchases either. India is the world’s third largest oil importer and consumer and has bought at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude since Russia attacked Ukraine, according to Reuters. That compares to about 16 million barrels for all of last year. The temptation is to buy cheap. Especially since India is again trying to revive its own economy – and has just delivered fuel to its small neighbor Sri Lanka, which is suffering from an energy crisis.
The discussion between Modi and Biden is now expected to serve as the basis for the “2+2” talks between the United States and India. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have agreed to hold consultations with their Indian counterparts, Secretary of Defense Rajnath Singh and Minister of Foreign Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Jaishankar, a former ambassador to Washington and China, will likely ask to keep the bigger picture in mind.
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