In a public statement on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused the Indian government of taking advantage of “Russia’s aggression” against his country to increase its oil reserves.
The Ukrainian foreign minister also expressed concerns over India’s insistence on describing what Ukrainians regard as “Russian aggression” as the “war in Ukraine”.
A day after stating that India’s oil imports from Russia still only account for a small portion of the European Union’s purchases of Russian fossil fuel, Kuleba made his remarks in an interview with NDTV.
“It is not enough just to point fingers at the European Union and say, ‘Oh, they are doing the same thing’, because the core reason of India’s opportunity to save money on oil and to buy more cheap oil and to solve its problems is not the fact that Europeans are buying Russian oil. It is the fact that Ukrainians are suffering from Russia’s war and dying because of it.”
Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, India has increased its oil purchases from Russia, taking advantage of the Russian offer of discounted oil “in national interest”.
According to Kuleba, the option for India to purchase Russian oil at a low cost stems from the fact that Ukrainians are being killed every day as a result of Russian aggression. “They reside in homes without power, heating, or hot water. We hope anyone who chooses to purchase Russian oil will be aware of this truth,” he said.
The minister stated that Russia was using the money gained from this trade to fund the war and kill Ukrainians, and thus Ukraine was equally critical of any nation — whether in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else — that was purchasing Russian oil in huge numbers.
Regarding the possibility that Prime Minister Modi could soften Russia’s hardline stance, Kuleba stated, “We have seen some encouraging messages coming from your Prime Minister, when he said this is not the time for war. We hope that (it) is more active… even if it is quiet, behind-the-scenes active diplomacy (that) will take place in the coming weeks. It’s worth trying anyway to end the war.”
He continued, “But we have to keep in mind that the starting two points are the ones that I mentioned – Putin has to change his mind, and second, he has to accept the fact that the Russian army must withdraw from Ukraine.”
When questioned about the G20 and whether India works to resolve the situation in Ukraine, Kuleba responded saying, “G20 brings together various countries, but none of them except one that is Russia, wants war. So to end the war in Ukraine, two things have to be done – the opinion in the Kremlin has to be changed, and powers like India can help facilitate that. And Moscow has to abandon its war plans, and switch from war-mongering to a peaceful line of thinking.”
“These are the starting points of a comprehensive peace dialogue, but in the meantime there are many issues that need to be addressed. They were all brought about by the war waged by Russia. Food security, nuclear security, exchange of prisoners, protecting the environment in times of war. India’s leadership and participation will be appreciated,” he added.
Kuleba’s comments came after India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar stated earlier on Monday:
“Between February 24 and November 17, the EU imported more fossil fuel from Russia than the next 10 countries combined. The oil import in the EU is six times what India imports; gas is infinite times because we don’t import it whereas the EU has imported gas worth 50 billion euros. Even coal imports from Russia by the EU is 50 percent more than what India has imported.”
Dr Jaishankar has previously accused Western leaders of using double-talk when referring to India’s oil purchases from Russia while the European Union continues to make increasing purchases of Russian oil, gas, and coal. The open pressing of India to decrease its purchases of Russian oil by a number of nations hostile to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has subsided in recent months. Kuleba has previously charged India for exploiting the turmoil his nation was experiencing.
At a press conference in August, Kuleba had stated, “When India purchases Russian crude oil, they have to understand that the discount is paid by Ukrainian blood. Every barrel of Russian crude that India gets has Ukrainian blood in it. We are friendly and open to India. Ukraine supported the evacuation of Indian students. We expected more practical support from India to Ukraine.”