India looking to stabilise economic engagement with Russia
New Delhi, Apr 29: India on Thursday once again said its objective has been to stabilise its economic engagement with Russia and that an inter-ministerial group is looking at resolving issues relating to payment mechanisms with Moscow.
The comments by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came amid increasing Western pressure on India to limit its economic ties with Russia and oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine, news agency PTI reported.
Replying to a question at a media briefing, Bagchi said there is a possibility that the Western sanctions against Russia might impact India and the inter-ministerial group is looking into the issue.
"Our objective has been to see how (we) can stabilise the economic transactions or economic engagement that we are doing with Russia in the current context," he said.
India has not yet publicly condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and has been pressing for the resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.
Bagchi said an inter-ministerial group led by the Finance Ministry is looking at the payment mechanisms.
"There is a possibility that these sanctions might impact us and that is why we are having the interministerial discussions and other conversations to see how we can keep our economic interactions with Russia stabilised and also to see how we can ensure our interests are not affected," he said.
The MEA spokesperson was asked whether India would feel the impact of the Western sanctions against Moscow.
"To say that it will not happen, it is very difficult to say," he said.
Asked whether India is looking at paying Russia in roubles for its imports, Bagchi did not give a direct reply.
"I do not think that is related in any way with the issue of whether Europeans are paying in roubles or not. We can pay in whatever currency that we work out. There are of course constraints. I know there are sanctions by some countries and that kind of issue," he said.
When asked whether India is buying more crude oil from Russia using the Rupee-Rouble payment mechanism, he said the oil purchasers will have a better idea of it.
"The government's perspective is that the inter-ministerial group headed by the finance ministry is looking at how we can resolve this issue of payment mechanisms," he said.
Responding to a question on whether the Ukraine issue will figure during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to Germany, Denmark and France, Bagchi said: "Naturally topical issues do get discussed." But, at the same time, he added that there is a lot more to discuss during the visit than this issue.
PM Modi will embark on a three-day visit to Germany, Denmark and France from May 2. To a specific question on whether India could be part of the peace initiative in Ukraine, Mr Bagchi said New Delhi has not received any particular request from either Ukraine or Russia for it.