India rules out involvement in Russia sanctions

bangkok With military honors, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) receives on Monday a guest who has not yet found clear words about the war in Ukraine. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Berlin for so-called governmental consultations – a bilateral working meeting which the federal government hopes will be a particularly in-depth exchange.

However, the planned expansion of the strategic partnership is overshadowed by differences over the war in Ukraine: the government in New Delhi refuses to condemn the Russian attack and to name the Kremlin as the aggressor.

Even before he left, Modi’s government made it clear that it did not want to back down from its position, which Russia had explicitly welcomed. India firmly excludes any participation in Western sanctions against Russia. A Foreign Office spokesperson said before Modi’s departure for Europe, where he wants to visit Germany as well as Denmark and France: “Our attitude towards sanctions has not changed at all.”

Instead of putting economic pressure on Russia as well, India wants to ensure that business with the country can continue unimpeded. Regarding Western sanctions, the State Department said, “We want to stabilize our economic interactions with Russia and ensure that our businesses and interests are not affected.”

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The Berlin meeting, to which several ministers will accompany him, is Modi’s first trip abroad since the start of the war in Ukraine. India’s decision to maintain traditionally close political and economic ties with the government in Moscow despite the invasion disappointment in Europe and the United States. During a visit to New Delhi, Scholz’s foreign and security policy adviser Jens Plötner said: “We want a situation in which our sanctions are not undermined and no friendly country tries to take economic advantage of the war.”

Scholz sees common values ​​and interests with India

But a number of leading Western politicians have recently been unable to change India’s stance: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have made independent trips to New Delhi in recent days to talk about Ukraine, among other things to talk about.

Ursula von der Leyen and Narendra Modi

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had made no concessions in New Delhi in recent days.

(Photo: AP)

Neither won any meaningful concessions – much like US President Joe Biden, who criticized India’s oil deals with Russia during a video conference with Modi in mid-April.

Even the federal government does not seem to expect any significant rapprochement in government consultations on the Russian question. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said ahead of the talks that it was about exchanging ideas and clarifying his own positions.

According to him, the German government does not want a clear position of India alongside Ukraine to be a prerequisite for closer relations. To do. Reviewing India’s position to date, Hebestreit said, “Whether this stands in the way of a real strategic partnership will probably have to be judged over time.”

Chancellor Scholz recently singled out India as one of the countries with which Germany wants to work more closely in the Asia-Pacific region – alongside Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Korea. from South. Germany shares common values ​​and interests with states, he said during his visit to Tokyo. When it comes to the war in Ukraine, however, Indian interests differ from those of Germany.

Olaf Scholz and Fumio Kishida

When it comes to the war in Ukraine, Indian interests differ from those of Germany, the Chancellor said during his visit to Tokyo.

(Photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire)

The country considers itself neutral in the conflict and abstained from voting on resolutions criticizing Russia in both the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.

Turning away from Russia would hurt India – says New Delhi

From the New Delhi government’s point of view, turning away from Russia would harm India: Asia’s third largest economy is dependent on Russian deliveries of military equipment and does not want to risk a weakening of its army, especially in the face of conflicts. with China. At the same time, Russia also provides energy: after the start of the Ukrainian war, the subcontinent significantly increased its imports of Russian oil.

In view of the purchase agreements with countries such as India, the German government fears that a possible EU oil embargo will have the desired effect. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck said on Thursday that such an embargo could lead to a sharp rise in prices on the world market. “A situation may arise where Putin, who is still selling oil to other states, gets more money with less oil,” he warned.

Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in 2021

From the perspective of the New Delhi government, turning away from Russia would hurt India.

(Photo: AP)

So far, however, Russia has not been able to impose surcharges on the prices of its oil deals with India – on the contrary: India claims to have bought from Russia mainly because the country had agreed to lower prices after the start of the Western wave of sanctions.

The New Delhi government has also described the volume of deliveries as relatively low. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the country buys less energy from Russia in a month than Europe does in an afternoon.

India is currently working with Russia on a new payment mechanism to make it easier in the future to settle transactions between the two countries in rubles and rupees, instead of going the detour through the US dollar. According to media reports, representatives of the Russian and Indian central banks recently negotiated the details. Apparently, a final decision has not yet been made.

After: India’s proximity to Russia – the West can spare itself the pointing finger.

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