‘Which side are you on?’

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US questions New Delhi’s neutrality and said that the world was watching India’s stand on its support for Russia as Moscow was illegally invading Ukraine, reports Asian Lite News

In a very message, the United States questioned New Delhi’s neutrality and said that the world was watching India’s stand on its support for Russia as Moscow was illegally invading Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said while interacting with the media that Washington is in touch with Indian leaders at various levels over the issue of India’s decision to buy oil from Russia at a discount.

“We have been in touch, of course, with Indian leaders at a range of levels, (however) not through the president,” Psaki said.

Psaki was responding to a question on the US’s stand with respect to India’s decision to buy Russian oil, despite the severe sanctions imposed on Russia by most of the Western countries.

“But what we will project and convey to any leader around the world is that the rest of the world is watching, where you are going to stand, as it relates to this conflict, (and) whether it is support for Russia, in any form as they are illegally invading Ukraine,” Psaki further said in a veiled reference to India’s neutrality in the ongoing conflict so far.

Earlier, on Tuesday, the United States said India would not be violating US sanctions by purchasing discounted Russian oil but added that such a move would put the world’s largest democracy on the “wrong side of history”.

India has been under tremendous pressure to take a side in the ongoing conflict, particularly from the US, which has imposed severe sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in late February this year.

India has not condemned the invasion of Ukraine and has abstained from voting at the United Nations calling out Russia’s aggression. US officials have said in recent weeks they would like India to distance itself from Russia as much as possible, while also recognizing its heavy reliance on Moscow for everything from arms and ammunition to missiles and fighter jets.

Last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told Indian Petroleum Minister Hardeep Puri in a phone call that the country is keen to increase its oil and petroleum product exports to India along with Indian investments in the Russian oil sector, according to a statement issued by Moscow.

A Russian government release last week had said that Russia’s oil and petroleum product exports to India have approached $1 billion, and there are clear opportunities to increase this figure.

“We expect to continue cooperating in the development of peaceful nuclear power, in particular, in building the nuclear power units at Kudankulam,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying in the statement following a phone conversation with Indian Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

According to some media reports on Monday, India’s largest refiner, Indian Oil Corp, purchased 3 million barrels of Russian crude oil, the first such transaction since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer and importer and one of the few countries not to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, currently imports 80 per cent of its oil, but only about 2 per cent to 3 per cent of those purchases come from Russia.

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