NEW DELHI: A verbal exchange between External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss here on Thursday highlighted the difference of stance between New Delhi and London regarding sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Sharing the stage with EAM Dr Jaishankar at an event here, visiting Foreign Secretary Truss said the United Kingdom was working to end its dependence on Russian oil and that she did not want to “tell India what to do”. To this, Jaishankar said that it was Europe that was buying more oil from Moscow before the Ukraine war.
“I have outlined the UK’s approach to sanctions and the fact that we are ending our dependence on Russian oil by the end of this year… India is a sovereign nation. I’m not going to tell India what to do,” Truss said at India-UK Strategic Futures Forum, jointly organised by Indian Council of World Affairs and Policy Exchange, UK.
She further stated, “What I have said is as a member of the UK Government that has signed up to the Budapest Memorandum, I feel a strong responsibility on behalf of the United Kingdom to take all the action we can, to support the people of Ukraine but that is not the same as going around telling other countries what to do.”
With the British Secretary listening, Jaishankar said, “If you look at the major buyers of oil and gas from Russia, I think you’ll find most of them are in Europe. We ourselves get the bulk of our energy supplies from the Middle East, about 7.5-8 per cent of our oil from the US in the past, maybe less than percent from Russia.”
“When oil prices go up, I think it’s natural for countries to go out into the market and look for what are good deals for them. But I am pretty sure if we wait two or three months and actually look at who are the big buyers of Russian gas and oil, I suspect the list won’t be very different from what it used to be. And I suspect we won’t be at the top 10 of that list,” he added.
While Secretary Truss repeatedly spoke about the “Russian aggression”, Jaishankar did not mention it during the entire panel discussion. Jaishankar also said that China should not be seen supporting the Russian action in Ukraine.
“We have an agreement dating back 1994 to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We need to do what we can in our powers,” Truss said.
“This matters even more in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and underlines the need for free democracies to work closer together in areas like defence, trade and cyber security,” the UK Foreign Secretary added.
Truss also said that strengthening relationship with India had become “more important than it has ever been precisely because we are living in a more insecure world”.
EAM Jaishankar and Secretary Truss also held the Annual Strategic Review of Roadmap 2030 after the panel discussion. “Noted that we have made good progress on all its pillars. Promising prospects in trade and investments, defence & security, migration & mobility, S&T, education, climate cooperation and green energy,” the EAM tweeted.
India and UK launched Roadmap 2030 during Virtual Sumeet in May 2021 which set the tone for bilateral relations of two vibrant economies for next ten years.
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