Brussels: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has responded strongly after EU Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for action against India for buying refined oil products from Russia. The EAM advised him to look at EU Council regulations. “Look at EU Council regulations, Russian crude is substantially transformed in the third country and not treated as Russian anymore. I would urge you to look at Council’s Regulation 833/2014,” said Jaishankar. This comes after the bloc’s chief diplomat earlier said that the EU should crack down on India reselling Russian oil as refined fuels including diesel into Europe as Western nations move to tighten sanctions on Moscow’s energy sector.
“India buys Russian oil, it’s normal…” said EU’s foreign policy chief Borrell but wants the bloc to act on refined products coming from India-made Russian crude in an interview. While Borrell met with Jaishankar at the trade technology talks in Brussels, he was not present at the press conference that followed.
In his place, EU Executive Vice President on Competition, Margrethe Vestager said that there was “no doubt about the legal basis of the sanctions”, and that the EU and India would have the discussion as “friends… with an extended hand and of course, not a pointed finger.”
Along with Jaishankar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar was also in the meeting. Jaishankar on Monday arrived in Brussels for the last leg of his three-nation visit covering Bangladesh, Sweden and Belgium.
Earlier also Jaishankar had defended India’s imports from Russia while indirectly criticizing the West for pressuring New Delhi to minimize its trade with Russia in view of its military action in Ukraine.
He wondered how Europe could make choices to prioritize its own energy needs and at the same time ask India to do something else. “Our trade with Russia is at a very small level- USD 12-13 billion, in comparison to European countries. We’ve also given the Russians a set of products… I don’t think people should read more into it other than the legitimate expectations of any trading country to increase its trade,” the EAM said earlier in December while addressing a joint press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock.
“I would urge you to look at these figures. There is a website called ‘Russia Fossil Fuel Tracker’ that would give you country-by-country data of who is really importing what and I suspect that might be very helpful,” he added. .