New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said India “vehemently” rejects Europe’s allegations that it is a “war profiteer” for buying Russian oil and stated the country’s focus as the current president of the G20 will be addressing economic growth and not just resolving the conflict in Ukraine.

In a series of interviews with the European press, S Jaishankar also said India has already done a lot to help with the Ukraine conflict and is trying to find solutions rather than being “polemical”.

“I vehemently reject — politically and also mathematically — that India is a war profiteer. Oil prices have doubled as a result of the Ukraine war. In such a situation, if you get a better price than other countries, you still pay much more than before,” Jaishankar said.

During an interview with Vienna-based Die Press — a German broadsheet — the External Affairs Minister said: “The oil market is also driven up by sanctions against Iran or what is happening in Venezuela. In such a situation, it makes diplomatic and economic sense to look around the market for the best deal. Would Europe pay more if it didn’t have to?”

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Jaishankar, who was on a visit to Cyprus and Austria from December 29 to January 3, pointed out that Europe imported about $120 billion worth of energy from Russia since the war broke out in February 2022. “That’s six times as much as we bought.”

“Almost all states will say that they support the principles of the UN Charter. But look at the world of the last 75 years: Have all UN members really always followed the UN Charter and never sent troops to another country?,” he questioned on queries about Russia violating international law and India’s support.

Jaishankar also alluded to the fact that since Europe is now buying oil from India’s traditional sources, New Delhi is compelled to procure more crude from Moscow.

When asked if India is willing to play the role of a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, Jaishankar said it is already doing so in some of the aspects, such as the grain deal, under which both Russia and Ukraine agreed to export shipments of wheat and fertilisers through the Black Sea.

“We also tried to defuse the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” he said.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was captured by the Russian forces during the war, giving rise to threats of the war turning into a nuclear conflict.

He also refuted claims that buying arms from Russia equalled India benefitting from the war and blamed Europe for not calling out Pakistan’s military dictatorship.

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“We’ve been importing weapons from Russia for over 60 years, that’s nothing new… During these 60 years, western countries, including those in Europe have sold arms to a military dictatorship in Pakistan. The only country that was willing to help us at that time was the Soviet Union. So, if we have an arrangement with Russia, it is a direct consequence of a Western preference for military regimes in our part of the world,” he said.

‘G20 Should Deal With Economic Problems’

Talking about India’s role as the current president of the G20 to another European media outlet, Jaishankar said, New Delhi’s focus will be on addressing issues concerning economic growth and not so much only looking at resolving the war.

“Understandably, the focus in Europe is currently heavily on the Ukraine conflict. But in large parts of the world, people are worried about high energy prices, food shortages and whether there is enough fertiliser for food production. These are concerns that go well beyond the conflict in Ukraine,” he said.

“Especially in the developing countries that we call the Global South, there is a lot of frustration that their concerns go unheard by much of the world. The G20 should therefore deal with the problems of economic growth in the world,” he said.

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A day after last year’s Christmas, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking New Delhi’s assistance in prioritising issues around the war as the G20 President.

“This conflict is a conflict that is of no interest to anyone. The predominant majority of countries around the world would say the sooner it ends, the better. With such a big one and complicated problem, many countries can help somehow. To a certain extent we have already done quite a bit,” he said, adding, “India is not polemical. India is trying to find solutions.”

Does Not Have To Be A ‘Grand Peace’ Deal

According to the diplomat-turned-politician, countries that are trying to put an end to the war do not have to seek a “grand peace deal” but address some of the urgent issues like the food and energy crisis.

“For reasonable diplomats, now is not the time to take an all-or-nothing approach. There are many issues in between that need to be addressed quickly and where progress can be made. It doesn’t always have to be about the grand peace deal,” said Jaishankar.

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He added, “For many African countries, the fertiliser issue is a top priority. If there is enough fertiliser is not coming from Russia and Ukraine, there will be global food shortages and famine in a few months or years. I wonder what the consequences of this conflict, following years of the covid pandemic, will be for global energy and food markets, inflation and international trade.

“I see nothing but bad news everywhere. Nobody really needs this war. We don’t need wars at all… We are already living in dangerous times. This transition to the new world order will take a long time,” India’s foreign minister said.



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