India Not Dancing To US’ Tune
Following multiple threatening visits by senior US officials to New Delhi, the diktat issued by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on April 6 (2022) that “We, obviously, would prefer that India move away from their long-term history of non-alignment G77 partnership with Russia”, and a personal intervention by President Joe Biden before the meeting of the two countries’ diplomatic and defence ministers on April 11; India did not bow to the key US demands at the end of the day, as the Narendra Modi Administration held Russia responsible for the Ukraine War and Human Rights violations, and that it slow down, and then stop energy and defence purchases from Moscow.
Russia is not mentioned in the final statement issued after the “2+2” ministerial meeting, and Ukraine is mentioned only once, and then only to report that “the Ministers reviewed mutual efforts to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine”, urging an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The White House had arranged for a call between President Biden and Prime Minister Modi immediately before the 2+2 meeting. Publicly, the US President said that they would be discussing the effects of the Russian War; while PM Modi spoke of his personal efforts to foster direct talks between the Presidents of Russia and Ukraine, and also of India’s hopes that the ongoing negotiations between those countries would lead to peace. The “senior administration official” who gave a background briefing on the private one-hour talk which followed, four times described their talk as “candid” or “very candid” – standard diplomatic language for a brawl.
Washington’s arrogance is impressive, as Press Secretary of White House Jen Psaki told reporters afterwards that President Biden had “conveyed” to Modi that “it is not in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities”. He also made “clear what the impact… of our sanctions would be”. Psaki reportedly said that President Biden “made clear that we would be happy to help them in diversifying” energy imports, to not rely on Russia.
Diversifying means giving up fossil fuels, stressed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the joint press conference after the 2+2 meeting. He acknowledged India’s huge power needs, saying: “India is the third largest consumer of energy in the world… Electricity demand is projected to double by 2030.” However, he asserted that the way to meet “the needs of the Indian people, the Indian economy” was by fulfilling India’s COP 26 climate goals. He further offered work being done at the Energy Bureau of the State Department “on the most economical de-carbonisation pathways”.
Add to all this, the brazen admission by the senior Biden Administration official giving the background briefing, that the US views India’s border conflict with China as useful to its designs to swing India against Russia. “We know that India has concerns about the links between Russia and China. India, of course, is facing a very tense situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). And when India sees the tight links between China and Russia, that’s obviously going to impact their thinking,” the unnamed US official insisted.
In a major shift in its tone on India’s energy imports from Russia, the US said that energy imports were not banned from Russia and India was not violating US sanctions. Earlier, the Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stressed that the South Asian country’s total purchase of oil from Russia in a month was probably less than what Europe did in an afternoon. Speaking at a media conference in New Delhi on April 11, he said: “I noticed you refer to oil purchases. If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe. We do buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security.” The Indian minister added: “But, I suspect looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council Mikhail Popov has claimed that the US increased imports of Russian oil by 43% in the first week of April 2022. He reportedly said: “The US forced Europeans to introduce anti-Russian sanctions, while not only continuing to import oil from Russia, but also increasing volume of oil deliveries for the past week by 43% up to 100,000 barrels per day! Besides, Washington allowed US companies to import mineral fertiliser from Russia, listing it as essential goods.“
Boundless Ocean of Politics has received this article from Christopher Lewis of Schiller Institute, Frankfurt, Germany.
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