may bail out Russia by taking up an offer to buy crude oil and other commodities at a discount despite Western attempts to isolate Moscow through sanctions.
India, which imports 80 per cent of its oil needs, usually buys only about 1 per cent from Russia. But with oil prices up 40 per cent so far this year, the government is looking at increasing this if it can help reduce its rising energy bill.
'Russia is offering oil and other commodities at a heavy discount. We will be happy to take that,' an Indian government official said, declining to elaborate on how much oil was on offer and what the discount was.
The official added that such trade required preparatory work including transportation, insurance cover and getting the right blend of crude, but once that was done India would take Russia up on its offer.
Iraq was the top crude oil supplier to India in 2021, accounting for 25 per cent of the country's total crude imports.
Saudi Arabia (16 per cent), the UAE (11 per cent), Nigeria (8 per cent) and the US (7 per cent) were other key suppliers.
The latest in a line of countries queueing up behind China to offer Vladimir Putin's Russia a helping hand in facing down western sanctions is India. The people who govern the world's second largest population offered a sanctions sanction-busting lifeline as the Russia's war in Ukraine enters its third week. The Indian offer came after China lifted wheat import restrictions.
Neither Beijing nor New Delhi have condemned the invasion in Ukraine and both abstained from a vote at the United Nations calling out Russian aggression last month. Both governments are walking a diplomatic tightrope in order to preserve their vital trade links with Russia which is now facing serious economic woes after being targeted by sanctions.
Meanwhile the UK will send India - a country with its nuclear arsenal and its own space programme - £55.3million in aid in 2021/22, up from £41.5million in 2020/21.
India may bail out Russia by taking up an offer to buy crude oil and other commodities at a discount despite Western attempts to isolate Moscow through sanctions (pictured, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting in December 2021 - Picture: Daily Mail
American officials have tried to persuade India to distance itself from Russia in recent weeks, while recognising its heavy reliance on Moscow for everything from grain and raw materials for manufacturing to fuel and fighter jets.
An Indian government spokesman said West understood India's position from a stte security point oif view, given that it needs to maintain good relations with Russia amid simmering territorial disputes with China. Reuters reported this week that India's central bank is trying to set up a rupee-rouble mechanism with Russia to by - pass the American controlled SWIFT system from which Russia is now barreed and thus continue bilateral trade.
Russia has urged friendly nations to maintain trade and investment ties.
from oil, India is also looking for cheaper fertiliser from Russia and
its ally Belarus, according to one of the officials. It is likely Russia will be eager to cooperate in order to offset in part the loss of revenue from its retaliatory ban on the export of chemical fertilisers to the west which is bound to cause food shortages and soaring prices in the countries that imposed sanctions on Russia.
Indian officials justified their action by sayingthey could not suddenly replace Russia with other suppliers, particularly in the defence sector. India's dependence on Russia for its military hardware still runs as high as 60 per cent, despite a significant reduction over the last decade.
US officials have declined to say if India would be sanctioned should Russia send S-400 missile systems as part of a $5.5 billion deal signed in 2018 for five of them.