Press Trust of india

Russia hints at intensifying trade with India in national currencies

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New Delhi: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday said Russia has begun moving towards conducting trade in national currencies with India and its other partners to bypass the impediments of Western sanctions, and vowed to continue the momentum of bilateral strategic ties.

Lavrov made the comments after holding wide-ranging talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in which the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its implications for ties between Moscow and New Delhi figured.

The talks were held a day after the US warned of consequences over attempts to “circumvent” American sanctions against Moscow.

Asked at a briefing to a select group of reporters whether India can help defuse the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Lavrov said if India, with its “just and rational approach” towards international problems, wants to support such a process, then no one would be against it.

At the same time, he added that he has not heard anything about it from India.

To another question on whether having a rouble-rupee payment system was discussed in the talks, Lavrov said such an arrangement was started for trade with countries like India and China many years ago and efforts to bypass the western payment systems will now be intensified.

“I would recall that many years ago we started moving in our relations with India, China (and) many other countries from using dollar and euros to more and more use of national currencies. Under the current circumstances, this trend I believe will be intensified, which is natural and obvious,” he said.

“We don’t want to depend on a system which would be closed anytime and we don’t want to depend on a system whose masters can steal your money overnight,” he said.

The Russian foreign minister talked about “very good relations” between the ministries concerned in India and Russia to ensure the continuation of bilateral trade notwithstanding Western sanctions.

“We have very good relations between the trade ministries, the ministries of finance, and I have no doubt that a way would be found out to bypass the artificial impediments which illegal and unilateral sanctions by the West create,” he said.

“This relates also to the area of military-technical cooperation. We have no doubt that the solution would be found and the respective ministries are working on it,” he said.

On whether the issue of India’s willingness to procure larger volumes of crude oil from Russia was discussed, Lavrov said, “We will be ready to supply to India any goods which India wants to buy.”

The Russian foreign minister also lauded India’s position on the conflict and said most of countries understand what has been going on and the root cause of the crisis.

“The Western colleagues just made their real face known these days and I have no slightest doubt that most countries…understand what is going on,” he said.

Lavrov said Russia is committed to maintaining the flow of trade with India notwithstanding the sanction regimes.

“It is a natural route for us to decide on a mutually beneficial relationship. In the context of this kind of unjustified reaction, we have to objectively and naturally work in this direction, work in trade and economic areas.

“It’s not yesterday but for many years we have been dealing with Western sanctions and we have experience of how to live in these conditions and we are fine and our partners are also fine in that,” he said.

Lavrov said the talks were characterised by relations developed with India over many decades and referred to the privileged strategic partnership between the two sides.

“I believe that India’s foreign policy is characterised by independence and the concentration on the real national legitimate interests,” he said.

Lavrov said Russia supports India’s efforts to consolidate ties with countries of the region and to promote mutually beneficial approaches in South Asia.

Unlike many other leading powers, India has not yet criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and it abstained from the votes at the UN platforms in condemning the Russian aggression.

India has been pressing for the resolution of the crisis through diplomacy and dialogue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, March 2 and March 7.

Modi had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice.

Last week, Jaishankar said in Parliament that India’s position on the Ukraine conflict has been “steadfast and consistent” and that it has been seeking immediate cessation of violence.

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