External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, on Monday, strongly defended India’s imports from Russia while indirectly criticising the West yet again for pressurising New Delhi to minimise its trade with Russia in view of its military action in Ukraine.
He wondered how Europe could make choices to prioritise its own energy needs and at the same time ask India to do something else.
Addressing a joint press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock after wide-ranging talks between the two foreign ministers, Jaishankar noted that the European Union (EU) imported more fossil fuel from Russia between 25 February (When Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine) and 17 November than the next ten countries combined. The EU’s gas imports from Russia were worth 50 billion Euros. The EU’s coal imports were also 50 per cent more than the imports by India, he added.
”Our trade with Russia is at a very small level- $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 minister said.
“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 very helpful,” he told a German journalist.
Earlier, Jaishankar and the German minister held detailed discussions on deepening bilateral cooperation including energy, trade and climate change.
Baerbock described India as Germany’s natural partner. India, she said, would play a decisive role in shaping the world order in the 21st century, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The Government of India has not only set an ambitious target for itself in the G20, but has also set a target for our country. India wants to go further than ever in the energy transition when it comes to expanding renewable energy and Germany stands by India in this,” she said.
“We are all affected by the impact of the climate crisis, livelihoods have also been damaged in Europe and India, in such a situation, we want to take our cooperation beyond the level of strategic alliance in the economic, climate sector and security policy,” Baerbock added.
The two ministers also signed a comprehensive migration and mobility partnership agreement.