As Ukraine’s allies seek to expand the coalition of nations against Russia, the United States and Europe are working to persuade India to abandon its neutral stance in the war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the G7 summit in Germany on Monday, where Ukraine is in the spotlight. So far, US attempts to convince Mr. Modi to stop buying Russian oil have been unsuccessful. Its purchases of Russian oil have doubled since the start of the conflict.
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Four other countries that have close relations with Russia were also invited to the summit – Argentina, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa.
Mr. Modi maintains a neutral stance on the war, calling for a settlement through diplomacy and dialogue. But India’s growing trade with Russia has undermined US efforts to deprive the Kremlin of oil revenues.
Political observers say the Biden administration likely views India as too important a partner in its plans to contain China to seriously consider sanctions against India for increasing its trade with Russia.
Mr. Modi is scheduled to attend meetings on climate, energy, health, food security and gender equality. During the summit, President Biden announced plans for an infrastructure fund, with G7 countries investing billions of dollars in development projects in India and elsewhere as a counterbalance to China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative.
The meeting at Elmau Castle, a haven in the Bavarian Alps, comes amid a deteriorating situation in Ukraine, which has not only triggered a geopolitical crisis but also threatened energy and food security, especially in developing countries.
While the US and Europe are working to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, India and China have boosted their purchases sharply, taking advantage of $30 a barrel discounts on crude oil.
When he was re-elected in 2019, Mr Modi promised to double the size of India’s economy by 2024. His government said India’s growth depended on reliable and affordable fuel supplies, and that Iranian oil sanctions left India with few other options.
At the same time, India is increasing its purchases of Russian oil, Europe continues to buy most of the Russian natural gas exported in recent months. Indian officials are criticizing what they describe as Western hypocrisy.
“Punishing India for getting a good deal and doing it legally is not in their immediate plans,” said Samir N. Kapadia of Washington-based consultancy Vogel Group.
“However,” he added, “I don’t believe these record levels of imports will go unnoticed.”