WASHINGTON: As Russia became India’s top oil supplier last month, the US State Department said on Monday that the United States “does not currently have” sanctions on Russian energy exports to other countries.

The Indian media reported earlier in the day that Russia had surpassed traditional sellers Saudi Arabia and Iraq in exporting oil to India.

The report noted that India remained non-committal on a plan proposed by the G7 group of nations to cap the price of oil purchased from Russia as a means of limiting Moscow’s revenues.

“The United States does not currently have sanctions in place against Russian energy exports to other countries,” a US State Department spokesperson told Dawn when asked to comment on the development.

“We have been very clear that each country will have to make its own choices based on its own circumstances in terms of energy imports,” said the US official when asked if Pakistan, and other countries, could also import Russian oil in the same way as India did.

“We continue to coordinate with allies and partners, including India and European allies and partners, to mitigate the impact of (President Vladimir) Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine on global energy markets.”

The State Department official, however, pointed out that the US Department of the Treasury had already issued a general licence, “authorising energy-related transactions with sanctioned Russian banks, so those payments can continue”.

The current US sanctions that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year “include carve-outs for payments related to energy, trade and transport”, the official added.

With the help of such sanctions, the United States was able to ban imports of Russian energy given its position as a strong energy producer, the official said.

The Indian media reported that Russia, which accounted for just 0.2 percent of all oil imported by India in the year to March 31, supplied 9,35,556 (9.3 million) barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to India last month — the highest ever.

Russian oil now makes up for 22 percent of India’s total crude imports, ahead of Iraq’s 20.5 percent and Saudi Arabia’s 16 percent.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2022

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