Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has described sanctions against Russia imposed by the West as “levers” that advanced economies have at their disposal “based on mechanisms, powers and tools built over many years.”
“They use these levers when it suits them,” he said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera during last week’s visit to Rome. “It’s not that they go to the United Nations to seek legitimacy; they do it when they think their interests are at stake. Many parts of the world do not accept the concept of sanctions in the same way. It is done as if the whole world agreed on sanctions. It’s not really like that.”
When asked why emerging countries bring up the “double standards” of the West when it comes to the Ukraine conflict or the war between Israel and Gaza, the foreign minister replied that this sentiment had a lot to do with its Eurocentric attitude toward global affairs.
“A lot of it comes from the fact that, in the past, when there were problems in other parts of the world, European countries essentially thought it wasn’t their place to worry about it. As long as Europe was safe and nothing threatened the European way of life, others could take care of it. Then, when something happens in Europe, European countries want international expressions of solidarity,” he said.
India has abstained from all resolutions moved against Russia in the United Nations (UN) since it launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. New Delhi has also increased the purchase of Russian crude oil and continued buying weapons from Moscow.
India’s trade volume with Russia has soared in recent months, with turnover for goods in January-August already surpassing the total for the previous year. According to data from the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, total trade between the two countries in the first eight months of the year reached nearly $44 billion.
Jaishankar’s comments come days after he asserted that New Delhi had acted in its “best interests” when it decided to continue buying oil from Russia in spite of pressure from the West.
Speaking at an event in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, last week, the foreign minister said New Delhi’s “strong stance on our right to buy oil from Russia” had received a lot of attention. “Had we not exercised that option, think about what a difference it would have made to you, think how much higher your petroleum prices would have been, think how much inflation would have gone up in this country,” he told the audience.
Upon being asked by the Italian outlet to comment on Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s recent remark that there is “fatigue” over the Ukraine conflict, Jaishankar recalled Indian PM Narendra Modi telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that “today is no time for war” in Uzbekistan last year.
“An ordinary person would say that, at some point, people have to sit at a table and talk,” Jaishankar noted, adding that India is “always ready” to lend a hand.