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Russia will no longer rely on West for trading energy as Moscow pivots to China, India: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives a press conference during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The Russian government has said that it will no longer rely on partners in the West for its energy trade and its new energy policy will be oriented toward the East, where it has more reliable customers such as India and China.

“To put it bluntly, the change is that we would not rely on any partners in the West anymore. We would not allow them to blow up the pipelines again,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Friday, making a reference to the Nord Stream pipelines that were reportedly blown up by the American military under direct orders from US President Joe Biden.

“Energy policy of Russia will be oriented towards reliable and credible partners. India and China are certainly among them,” said Lavrov, who had gone to India for the G20 summit.

Russia used to be Europe’s main supplier of energy in recent years. However, following the launch of Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine, which began more than a year ago, the US-led Europeans decided to ban the exports of energy resources from Russia.

After the Russian crude ban by the Western countries started, India and China took advantage of more supply and less demand and became the largest importers of Russian crude at discount prices.

India even received a waiver from the US for the anti-Moscow sanctions, allowing Delhi to continue buying Russian oil.

During a meeting with Lavrov in Moscow in November, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said buying oil from India’s “steady and time-tested partner” is economically advantageous for the South Asian nation.

“Russia has been a steady and time-tested partner. Any objective evaluation of our relationship over many decades would confirm that it has actually served both our countries very, very well,” Jaishankar said in a joint news conference.

“As the world’s third-largest consumer of oil and gas, a consumer where the levels of income are not very high, it is our fundamental obligation to ensure that the Indian consumer has the best possible access on the most advantageous terms to international markets.”

“We have seen that the India-Russia relationship has worked to advantage. If it works to my advantage, I would like to keep that going,” the Indian foreign minister said.

On the other side, China also increased its crude oil imports from Russia, taking advantage of lower prices in the face of Western sanctions and importing more oil than any other country.

Chinese customs data showed that its crude oil imports from Russia had increased to record levels, with Moscow replacing Riyadh as the top supplier.

In response to stronger ties and expanding relations between Moscow and Beijing, Washington has initiated consultations with its Western allies on the possibility of imposing new sanctions against China if it supplies military aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, according to a recent Reuters report.

The report cited four unnamed US officials and other sources as saying that the White House is in a preliminary stage of consultations with allies aimed at drumming up support from a range of countries, particularly those in the wealthy Group of 7 (G7), in order to coordinate support for sanctions against Beijing.

Since the onset of the Ukraine war, the US-led NATO countries and Ukraine’s other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.

Russia has condemned both the anti-Moscow sanctions and the Western military assistance, saying such measures will prolong the war and add to the deaths and destruction. However, Moscow says the US-led measures against the Russian forces will not stop it from reaching its stated objectives in the Russian-speaking regions.

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