Friday, December 1, 2023

“Mind your own business” Germany told on Russia-India oil trade

Denis Alipov, Russian Ambassador to India

Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov has told German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck to concentrate on his country’s own relations with New Delhi, after Habeck appeared to hit out at India for purchasing discounted Russian oil.   

Speaking on the sidelines of the Indo-German Business Forum in the Indian capital on Thursday, Habeck, who is also Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, urged “all democratic nations” to take a “clear position” on the Ukraine conflict.  

I know that Europe is a little bit away from Asia, of course, but on the other hand, this [the conflict in Ukraine] is of such importance… that I urge all the democracies worldwide to be clear in language and political position that this is not acceptable,” the vice chancellor said when answering a question on India’s decision not to support the G7 price cap on Russian oil.  

Habeck noted that the West had introduced a price cap rather than completely banning oil trade with Russia, but insisted that countries should not “make money” from discounted Russian supplies. “You are allowed to buy crude oil and refine it. That’s OK, that’s within the sanction system. But making money out of it, bringing more money to Russia using this sanction system to benefit from it is not the idea of it,” he stated. The German minister went on to repeat his plea to “all democracies worldwide” not to use the sanctions system “to give more credit and more money to Russia that they can [fuel] the war in Ukraine.” 

Responding to the remarks, Russian envoy Alipov said Habeck should focus on Berlin’s relations with New Delhi. “Noted reports that one of the goals of German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck’s visit to India is to discuss Russia-India cooperation. He’d do better to concentrate on India-Germany relations instead, as he’s supposed [to],” he tweeted. “Unfortunately, Germany has abandoned independent position on security issues in Europe, making its voice in the Ukrainian conflict irrelevant.

Habeck’s remarks followed reports that Indian public sector refineries were in talks with crude oil suppliers such as Iraq to increase purchases, amid a significant decline in discounts on Russian crude and possible payment-related issues linked to the G7 price cap of $60 per barrel.   

Russia emerged as India’s top oil supplier in May, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Iraq, according to analytics firm Kpler. While New Delhi has not supported the measures against Moscow adopted by the West in response to the conflict in Ukraine, Indian banks and financial institutions have remained cautious about clearing payments for fear of being placed under secondary sanctions by the US.

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