Indian American lawmaker’s call comes as White House says India buying Russian oil would not violate American sanctions
Even as the White House made clear that India taking up Moscow’s offer to buy discounted Russian oil would not violate Russian sanctions, senior Indian American lawmaker Ami Bera urged New Delhi not to do so.
“As the world’s largest democracy, and as a leader of the Quad, India has a responsibility to ensure its actions do not directly or indirectly support (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and his invasion” of Ukraine, he stated Tuesday.
California Democrat Bera, who chairs the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, was reacting to reports of India considering buying Russian oil at a discounted rate.
Read: Indian American lawmakers condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine (February 25, 2022)
“As the senior Indian American Member of Congress, I was deeply disappointed in India’s abstention from the United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he stated.
“Despite India’s long history defending its own border from outside aggression, New Delhi has chosen to remain silent on Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of a free and sovereign country,” the longest serving Indian American Member of Congress added.
“Even worse, India is now reportedly looking to bypass international sanctions and buy Russian oil at a steeply discounted rate, potentially giving Putin an economic lifeline at a time when the Russian economy is reeling from international sanctions,” Bera stated.
“If reports are accurate and India makes this decision to buy Russian oil at a discounted price, New Delhi would be choosing to side with Vladimir Putin at a pivotal moment in history when countries across the world are united in support of the Ukrainian people and against Russia’s deadly invasion,” he said.
Bera also serves on the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
Meanwhile, showing an understanding of India’s position, the White House Tuesday made clear that India taking up Russia’s reported offer of discounted crude oil would not be a violation of American sanctions.
“Our message to any country continues to be that, obviously, abide by the sanctions that we have put in place and recommended,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday in response to a question.
“I don’t believe this would be violating that,” she said when asked what would be Washington’s message to India or any other country tempted by such an offer from Moscow.
“But also think about where you want to stand when the history books are written in this moment in time,” Psaki said. “And support for the Russian leadership is support for an invasion that obviously is having a devastating impact.”
India has not supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has, however, abstained in all United Nations resolutions against Russia. New Delhi has also consistently asked all stakeholders to resolve their differences through dialogue.