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U.S. warns India, others against sharp rise in Russian oil imports -official

Published Mar 30, 2022 04:09PM ET Updated Mar 30, 2022 10:45PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Russian state flag flies on the top of a diesel plant in the Yarakta Oil Field, owned by Irkutsk Oil Company (INK), in Irkutsk Region, Russia March 10, 2019. Picture taken March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko/File Photo

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -A significant increase in Russian oil imports by India could expose New Delhi to a "great risk" as the United States prepares to step up enforcement of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, a senior U.S. administration official said.

While the current U.S. sanctions against Russia do not prevent other countries from buying Russian oil, the warning raises expectations that Washington will attempt to restrict other countries' purchases to normal levels.

The U.S. official's comment comes ahead of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's two-day visit to New Delhi and during the ongoing visit of U.S. deputy national security adviser for economics Daleep Singh.

Refiners in India, the world's third biggest oil importer and consumer, have been snapping up Russian oil through spot tenders since the war broke out on Feb. 24, taking advantage of deep discounts as other buyers back away. India has purchased at least 13 million barrels of Russian oil since Feb. 24, compared with nearly 16 million barrels in all of 2021.

"U.S. has no objection to India buying Russian oil provided it buys it at discount, without significantly increasing from previous years," said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Some increase is allowed," said the source, who did not offer more detail.

The State Department is aware of talks between Russia and India concerning the purchase of oil, a spokesperson said. "We continue to engage our partners in India and around the world on the importance of a strong collective action, including strong sanctions, to press the Kremlin to end its devastating war of choice against Ukraine as soon as possible," the spokesperson said.

The Biden administration is coordinating with India and European countries to mitigate the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on energy markets, while encouraging steps to reduce dependence on Russian energy, the spokesperson said. 

The U.S. Treasury Department declined comment and the White House's National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

U.S. sanctions are reducing the ability of Russia, which normally produces about 1 in every 10 barrels of global oil, to get crude to market. The Paris-based International Energy Agency has estimated that sanctions and buyer reluctance could remove 3 million barrels per day from global markets of Russian crude and refined products from April.

The source said Washington has no problems if India settles trade with Russia in rupees or continues to pay in dollars, provided the transaction are sanctions-compliant and with permitted entities.

India is devising a mechanism to settle trade with Russia, including through payment in rupees.

"Whatever they are paying, whatever they are doing, needs to be in compliance with sanctions. If not they are exposing themselves to a great risk", the source said.

"As long as they are compliant with sanctions and not significantly raising purchases, we are okay," the source said.

Russia is facing an onslaught of international sanctions led by Western countries aiming at isolating it from the global economy, including shutting it out of the SWIFT global bank messaging system and restricting dealings by its central bank. [

The White House has slapped sanctions against Russian entities and individuals among others, crippling Moscow's economy.

The Biden administration has also banned U.S. imports of Russian energy, including oil. But it has so far not targeted Russia's oil and gas exports to other countries, as the administration weighs the impacts on global oil markets and U.S. motor fuel prices.

New Delhi has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine but has refused to explicitly condemn Moscow's actions. It has abstained from voting on multiple U.N. resolutions on the war.

U.S. President Joe Biden said this month India was "somewhat shaky" in acting against Russia.

The U.S. official said India should use the mechanisms created by the United States that exempt energy transactions, and import oil from the 'permitted entities'.

"We, over the next several days and weeks, are going to be stepping up enforcement of sanctions. We are telling everybody, everywhere around the world to ensure you are compliant with sanctions … this is the message to everyone".

The U.S. sanctions have granted a waiver till June 24 for settling energy trade with the Central Bank of Russia.

U.S. warns India, others against sharp rise in Russian oil imports -official
 

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Comments (13)
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Apr 01, 2022 6:34AM ET
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Whatever we can do to save lives in Ukraine will be good for everyone in the future. Thugs like Putin, Trump, and their supporters must not prevail.
Ken Chao
Ken Chao Mar 31, 2022 8:24AM ET
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aren't we supposed to discuss investing and economic effects here? instead, so.many people n views on politics and need sanctions here?!
健聰 區
健聰 區 Mar 31, 2022 8:24AM ET
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Every government should do the best interest for their civilians.
Derick Lim
Derick Lim Mar 31, 2022 7:15AM ET
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Hmmmm.....seems like China and India prefer cheap oil than stopping war......and both these countries are staunch believers in KARMA.........
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Mar 31, 2022 7:15AM ET
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India has fallen deep .. a sinking ship .. Short-term gain for long-term pain.  Europe and Germany have been playing that game with Russia's oil and gas and see what trouble they're in now.
健聰 區
健聰 區 Mar 31, 2022 7:15AM ET
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I think US and NATO wanna stop the war as they send the weapons continuously
Jp Perth
Jp Perth Mar 31, 2022 1:27AM ET
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India is helping killers f India
Milan Shukla
Milan Shukla Mar 31, 2022 1:27AM ET
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Oh yeah? Do you’ve count on how many countries US has invaded so far? BTW one was by error, they still couldn’t find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
Shep De
Shep De Mar 31, 2022 12:43AM ET
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Everything here exudes coming conflict, and, yrs, the dollar index decreasing and oil prices increasing but, what can you do, no blood money for Russian oil so USA doing right thing.It was basically a form of genocide what Russia was allowed to do to Ukraine, shoot down entire apartment blocks, decimate people's lives & all said in the me of denazification, just crazy, no more Putin economic support whatsoever from Western democracies is right decision and eating face/crow but reopening leases to oil businesses USA is right thing to do or, irregardless Europe, esp. Germany does that, they need to stop taking Russian oil and gas, make deal with USA, for a 6-month sanction time vs Russia, then go back to Russia oil IF Russia stops slaughter & bombing of Ukraine AND uses their oil money to help rebuild Ukraine
Yekian Ian
Yekian Ian Mar 31, 2022 12:03AM ET
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Lets wait US sanctions India soon and then all country dispose US dollar
George Ferreira
George Ferreira Mar 30, 2022 11:52PM ET
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Now they know India exist? smh all I see this doing is raising us oil prices. bad for consumers everywhere but great for investors and producers, where is the us on this list?
Jason Patcher
Jason Patcher Mar 30, 2022 11:38PM ET
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this does seem silly? who exactly in the us warned who in India? shaky story - let's see if anyone else reports it. buy American stocks - only safe place from USA haha
Honey Badger
Honey Badger Mar 30, 2022 10:59PM ET
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So you are dictate every country in the world. So it mean you are dictator and there is place for you in democracy
Shivlund pujari
Shivlund pujari Mar 30, 2022 10:47PM ET
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Let put sanctions on India
Milan Shukla
Milan Shukla Mar 30, 2022 10:47PM ET
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Yeah lets. Like my way or highway? Gone are those days. US cannot dictate countries, stop policing. There’s growing intolerance
 
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