- According to the White House, Joe Biden advised PM Modi that the US can help India in diversifying its energy supply in the midst of the Ukraine war.
- PM Modi made no public commitment to stop purchasing Russian oil, which has been a source of tension between India and the United States.
- Both President Biden and PM Modi have openly voiced concern about the destruction in Ukraine, particularly in Bucha, where many civilians have been killed.
According to US officials, President Joe Biden cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that buying more Russian oil was not in India’s interests and could hamper the US response to the Ukraine crisis.
Biden and Modi both publicly voiced rising concern about the destruction in Ukraine, particularly in Bucha, where many civilians have been murdered, during an hour-long video chat described by US officials as “warm” and “candid.”
According to an official, Biden did not make a “concrete ask” of Modi on Monday, citing India’s concerns over increasing ties between Russia and China.
However, according to US officials, he advised Modi that relying on Russian energy sources will not improve India’s global position.
“The president conveyed very clearly that it is not in their interest to increase that,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
At a news conference later on Monday, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar pushed back against a question on India’s energy imports from Russia, saying the focus should be on Europe, not India. “Probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon.”
Broad talks between the world’s two largest democracies took place as the US wants more help from India in condemning and putting economic pressure on Russia for an invasion Moscow refers to as a “special military operation.”
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“Recently, the news of the killings of innocent civilians in the city of Bucha was very worrying,” Modi stated during a brief segment of the meeting open to reporters. “We immediately condemned it and have asked for an independent probe.”
In recent interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi has urged that Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky establish direct talks.
The South Asian countries have attempted to strike a balance between their ties with Russia and the West, but it has not imposed sanctions on Russia, unlike the other members of the Quad – the United States, Japan, and Australia.
Only India, according to Biden, is “somewhat shaky” in its efforts against Russia among the Quad countries.
Since the invasion in late February, India has purchased at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude oil, lured by steep discounts as a result of Western sanctions on Russian companies. According to figures compiled by Reuters, this compares to around 16 million barrels for the whole of the previous year.
Psaki did not disclose if India has made any commitments on energy imports but said that the US is willing to help the country in diversifying its energy sources.
Psaki, referring to Modi’s Monday statements on the conflict, said, “part of our objective now is to build on that and to encourage them to do more. And that’s why it’s important to have a leader to leader conversations.”
“We haven’t asked India to do anything in particular,” a US official stated. “India is gonna make its own judgments” the official said after “a very candid conversation.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, and their Indian counterparts Jaishankar and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met in Washington on Monday.
Blinken said India’s relations with Russia developed over decades at a time when the US couldn’t be a partner to India, but that times had changed since then.
“Today we are able and willing to be a partner of choice with India across virtually every realm,” Blinken said after the talks at a joint presser.
According to the ministers, India’s defence modernization needs were a major topic of discussion between the 2 nations.
The two nations have signed a bilateral agreement to boost information sharing and cooperation in space, according to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Officials said Biden informed Modi he hoped to see him in Japan for a Quad meeting “on about the 24th of May,” and the two leaders also addressed a range of other issues.