Open to buy Russian oil if no sanctions incurred: Miftah

Speaking to CNN, finance minister says Pakistan is open to buy oil, wheat from Russia due to rising prices


Hasaan Ali Khan June 01, 2022
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail during an interview with CNN's Becky Anderson on Tuesday, May 31. SCREENGRAB

KARACHI:

A day after European Union leaders agreed an embargo on Russian crude oil imports, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has said that Pakistan would be open to buy Russian oil at cheaper rates if the opportunity arises, provided that no sanctions are imposed because of the deal.

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Ismail made it succinctly clear that “It is very difficult for me to imagine buying Russian oil. At this point I think that it would not be possible for Pakistani banks to open LCs or arrange to buy Russian oil. And nor has, for that matter, the Russian Federation offered to sell us oil.”

On being asked if Pakistan is open to buy oil and wheat from Russia due to rising food and oil prices, the finance minister said, “We have talked about buying wheat from Russia and the previous government talked about buying oil from Russia but I think Russia is under sanctions.”

Ismail further said, “We have asked Ukraine and Russia, whichever country is willing to sell us wheat, we will be happy to buy from Ukraine or Russia.”

He also highlighted that “the previous government wrote a letter to the Russian Federation. The letter was not responded to. Russia has not offered us any oil and is now under sanctions right now.”

According to the finance ministry, the government has decided to keep petroleum prices unchanged, sparking fears IMF might not release the $1 billion loan tranche.

Also read: Russia wheat to be imported against cash

Reacting to Ismail’s interview, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari said, “The man is a liar! He says after 45 days we will buy oil from Russia if there are no sanctions. Ignorant man! There are NO sanctions on purchasing oil from Russia. Ask India! So what's actually stopping him from buying other than fear of US?”

Reuters had said the EU ban on Russian oil, agreed overnight after weeks of wrangling, aims to halt 90% of Russia's crude imports into the 27-nation bloc by year-end.

It is the toughest sanction yet on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and one that will itself affect the EU, where energy prices have spiked and inflation is rising.

Russia accounted for just over a quarter of EU oil imports in 2020, while Europe is the destination for nearly half of Russia's crude and petroleum product exports.

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