US warns India of ‘consequences’ of evading sanctions on Russia!

Indian contingent personnel pose with their Russian counterparts on the closing day of their joint exercise at Chebarkul in Russia

A TOP US national security official has called on India to scale back its economic and military ties with Russia, warning of ‘consequences’ for any nation that helps Moscow avoid the recent wave of Western sanctions.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Indian officials on Thursday, Washington’s deputy national security adviser for international economics, Daleep Singh, urged New Delhi not to boost Russian energy imports, and to avoid any moves that might ‘undermine’ the US dollar.

‘What we would not like to see is a rapid acceleration of India’s imports from Russia as it relates to energy or any other exports that are currently being prohibited by the US,’ he said, adding that the United States is ‘very keen for all countries, especially our allies and partners, not to create mechanisms that prop up the rouble and that attempt to undermine the dollar-based financial system.’

While condemning Russia’s ‘needless war’ on Ukraine, Singh said his visit to India was ‘in a spirit of friendship to explain the mechanisms of our sanctions’, but nonetheless warned that there would be ‘consequences for countries that actively attempt to circumvent or back-fill’ those penalties.

Asked what those consequences could entail, the adviser declined to elaborate, saying that was part of ‘private discussions that I’m not going to share publicly’.

Singh’s remarks followed reports that Moscow and New Delhi are currently working out a rupee-rouble payment system, which would allow the two nations to conduct bilateral trade in each others’ currencies.

India also recently agreed to buy a quantity of Russian crude oil at a discount, an unpopular decision with the US and some allies, who have embarked on a punitive sanctions campaign designed to isolate Russia’s economy and wreck the rouble.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also visited the Indian capital on Thursday, coinciding with official meetings with Singh as well as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Though American, Australian and British officials have criticised India’s refusal to go along with the sanctions spree, US State Department spokesman Ned Price insisted that Washington is not ‘seeking to change’ any nation’s ‘relationship with the Russian Federation’, citing India in particular.

‘What we are seeking to do, whether it is in the context of India or other partners and allies around the world, is to do all we can’ to ensure that ‘the international community is speaking in unison,’ Price added in comments on Lavrov’s trip.

Often portrayed as the ‘architect’ of the US sanctions regime on Moscow, Singh went on to cite growing ties between Russia and China, cautioning that their partnership could have major consequences for India, which has long been locked in a territorial dispute with Beijing along the Sino-Indian border.

‘If you set that against the reality that China and Russia have now declared a no limits partnership, and that Russia has said that China is its most important strategic partner, by extension, that has real implications for India,’ he said, claiming that Moscow would not ‘come running to India’s defence’ in the event of a Chinese incursion.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Europe of a new influx of migrants that, in his opinion, will ‘inevitably’ follow the food crisis.

Discussing on Thursday the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West in response to the Russian operation in Ukraine, Putin criticised the behaviour of some Western politicians, who are allegedly prepared to sacrifice their citizens’ interests in order to ‘enjoy the good graces of their overseas master and overlord’, branding such an approach as ‘the opposite of populism’.

‘People are urged to eat less, put on more clothes, and use less heating, give up on travel – presumably for the benefit of the people who are demanding this kind of voluntary deprivation as a sign of some abstract North Atlantic solidarity,’ Putin said at a meeting on air transportation and aircraft manufacturing on Thursday.

He underlined that Moscow has been seeing ‘such questionable approaches and actions’ in economic, energy, and food policies for more than a year.

Incidentally, the food crisis will inevitably be followed by another one, another wave of migration, primarily to the European countries.

A few days ago, the risks of an ‘unprecedented’ global food crisis were discussed at the G7 summit in Brussels.

Since Russia and Ukraine are key crop suppliers in the world, the G7 leaders have blamed Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine for a looming crisis and are now discussing a package of measures to prevent food shortages.

Nevertheless, in Putin’s opinion, the West continues to make decisions that ‘are pushing the global economy towards crisis’, leading to the disruption of production and logistics chains, an increase in global inflation, and the aggravation of inequality, to a decline in the living standards of millions of people, and to mass famine in the poorest countries.

Putin accused the US of trying to solve its own problems at the expense of other countries and to shift the blame for its own economic mistakes onto Russia.

Putin added that all the sanctions which are being imposed on Moscow now ‘have been prepared in advance’ and ‘would have been imposed in any case.’ They are poised, according to the president, ‘to curb Russia’s development,’ to undermine its sovereignty and to weaken its ‘industrial, financial and technological potential’.

Taking into consideration the fact that the West has been imposing the restrictions against Russia for many years, there is no point thinking that this approach would change any time soon, Putin emphasised.

The West strongly condemned Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, calling it ‘unlawful’ and ‘unjustified’, and slapped Moscow with hard-hitting sanctions, covering many sectors of the Russian economy.

The restrictions include Washington’s ban on energy imports, an international ban for the use of the SWIFT interbank messaging system, and personal sanctions against Putin.

Hundreds of companies have suspended or completely halted their operations in Russia.

In response, Moscow has included most of the Western countries in its list of ‘unfriendly states.’ All of these countries are now subject to various retaliation measures, restrictions, and specific requirements from Russia.

For example, Moscow now wants all ‘unfriendly’ states to pay for gas supplies in roubles. Another retaliatory initiative saw the Finance Ministry requesting that Russian companies that want to work with firms from countries on the list receive government permission first.

Russia’s Special Military Operation in late February, followed Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in September 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk.

The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularise the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.