India says focus is on stabilising economic ties with Russia

India says focus is on stabilising economic ties with Russia
India says it wants to stabilise economic ties with longstanding partner Russia.
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India and Russia have had strong economic and military ties for decades [Getty]

India is focused on stabilising its economic ties with Russia and is working to devise a payment mechanism to settle trade amid Western sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

India has called for an end to violence in Ukraine but refrained from outright condemnation of Russia, with which it has long-standing political and security ties.

"We have an established economic relationship [sic] with Russia. Given the current circumstance post-development in Ukraine, I think there is an effort by both sides to ensure that this economic relationship remains stable," ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a news conference.

"It is not talking about is about stabilising it because this (economic) relationship exists and it's in our interest to make sure some of this economic activity continues, and we are trying to see how we can keep that stable," Bagchi said.

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Before the Ukraine war, Indian refiners rarely bought Russian oil due to high freight costs. Western sanctions have seen many importers shunning trade with Moscow, depressing its crude prices to record discount levels, which prompted Indian companies to step in.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Indian refiners have ordered at least 16 million barrels of cheaper Russian oil, similar to purchases for the whole of 2021, according to Reuters calculations.

During a visit to New Delhi at the end of March, a top U.S. official said the United States did not want to see a "rapid acceleration" in India's oil imports from Russia. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma and Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)