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Amid skyrocketing inflation, India has increased its imports of Russian crude oil as other countries are attempting to fix the price to restrict Russia's oil revenues.
"In a situation where global prices were going beyond anyone's affordability, at that stage to take a very strong political decision, I respect the Prime Minister for his courage on this to get it from Russia because they are ready to give it to you at discount. And how speedily did we manage to do it," India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday, according to Indian media reports.
India has increased its Russian oil imports, Sitharaman said—up from 2 percent of its total oil imports before Russia's invasion of Ukraine to 12-15 percent.
India's ratcheted-up intake of otherwise shunned Russian crude oil has placed India in the crosshairs of Western leaders who are cooking up a plan to restrict Russia's revenues that it could use to fund its "special military operation" in Ukraine.
In July, Kpler data shows that India imported 666,000 bpd of Russian Urals—less than half of what China imported.
India has seized the opportunity afforded by cheap Russian crude to soften the blow of inflation for its citizens, Sitharaman said.
I give credit to the statesmanship of the Prime Minister to make sure that we did keep our relationship with all countries but yet manage to get the Russian crude... Sanctions, sanctions but countries (including Japan and Italy, among others) are finding their own way to get that Russian fuel (crude, gas)… That also is a part of inflation management."
India relies on imports to supply more than two-thirds of its crude oil needs. India's retail inflation fell to 6.71 in July but was still above the 6 percent targeted comfort level set by its Reserve Bank.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.