India will continue to buy cheap oil from Russia at discounted prices, the country's finance minister said on Friday.
"It has gone through. We have started buying. We have received at least quite a number of barrels. I would think about 3-4 days of supply and this will continue and India's overall interest is what is kept in mind," Nirmala Sitharaman said during a business news channel event.
She was responding to a question about the reports that Russia is offering deep discounts on oil purchases to India and if India would continue to buy it in view of geopolitical alignments.
Sitharaman’s remarks came a day after Daleep Singh, the US deputy national security adviser for international economics, cautioned New Delhi against "rapid acceleration" in trade deals with Russia.
"What we would not like to see is a rapid acceleration of India’s imports from Russia as it relates to energy or any other exports that are currently being prohibited by the US or by other aspects of the international sanctions regime," Singh told reporters on Thursday in the Indian capital, according to local daily Hindustan Times.
Differences between the US and India on the Ukraine war are already out in the open.
US President Joe Biden said last week that India, despite being a member of the Washington-led Quad group, is "somewhat shaky" in acting against Russia.
Sitharaman said she and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishkankar have explained India’s "position very clearly."
"I would put my country's national interest first and I would put my energy security first," she said. "If fuel is available and available in discounts, why shouldn't I buy it? I need it for my people, so we have already started purchasing."
India is a historical ally of Russia but has been growing closer to Washington in recent years. Since Russia declared a war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, New Delhi has called for a peaceful solution to the crisis but refrained from openly criticising Moscow.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is ready to provide all purchases that New Delhi may make.
Lavrov arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to hold a meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
India's stance on the Ukraine war has led to a flurry of visits by dignitaries from around the world.
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