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SOURCE: PTI

Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said Western countries are “not unhappy” that India is buying Russian oil, and pointed out that had India bought more oil from Gulf counties, it would have pushed up crude prices.

India shunned western pressures to raise imports from Russia last year. Russia, whose oil is available at a discount due to some western nations slapping sanctions, is now India’s top oil supplier.

Participating in the Lokmat National Conclave, Mr Puri said that India as a sovereign country has always exercised the right to source its energy from wherever it can at the most affordable prices.  In the last few years, India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, has diversified the source of energy from 27 countries to 39 countries, he said.

“We are exercising all our options as a large consumer. We will continue to do that in the foreseeable future and by the way, the West is not unhappy that we are buying Russian oil because if we are not buying Russian Oil, we will be buying more gulf oil and the prices would go up,” the minister said at the event.

From just 0.2 per cent of all oil imported by India, Russia in January supplied 28 per cent.

Speaking at the event, Mr Puri said that till March 31, 2022, the country bought only very little energy like 0.2 per cent from Russia, adding that because, it was obviously much cheaper to source it from the Gulf countries, which are in the next door or countries which are geographically more proximate.

“But, we also bought, till a few years ago, hardly any energy from the United States, today we are buying 20 billion dollars of energy from the United States and yes, our imports from Russia have increased…simply because the Russian crude, which we are sourcing is more economical…” Mr Puri said, adding that “We are playing the market card”.India used a combination of tax cuts and price freeze to insulate the consumers from energy prices shooting up sharply in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.