The External Affairs Minister of India, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, on Monday, December 2, 2022, was questioned by an Austrian anchor during his visit to Vienna about several issues related to India and its relations with Russia. The anchor focused on the actions of Europe, which are putting pressure on the global oil markets, including India.
During the interview, the Austrian anchor asked, “Is it about to still making sure that Europe is not freezing to death in the winter or just increasing your interest by five times?”
EAM Dr S Jaishankar replied, “No, Europe has managed to lessen its imports while doing it in a manner comfortable for Europe. Look how people that would have been a little bit of a managed. Now, if at 60,000 Euros or whatever your per capita, you care about your population. I have a population of two thousand dollars. I also need energy. I’m not in a position to pay high prices; oil prices have doubled.”
“So, what Europe is doing is also moving into the Middle East and diverting production from the Middle East into Europe & increasing prices. So, European actions are putting pressure on the global oil markets and my imports. So I think it’s something which European political leadership understandably would like to soften the effects on their population. I think it is a privilege that they should extend to other political leaders as well.”
Furthermore, the EAM was asked whether he was reluctant to add Moscow because Russia is India’s most significant supplier of weapons and military equipment and whether he was reluctant to criticize Moscow.
In this instance, the foreign minister replied by evoking historical relations and reiterated some of his sharp responses.
“No, I don’t. We have a relationship with Moscow. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Moscow. I think it is important to look at the history of the relationship. It was a relationship built in a period when Western democracies utilised to arm a military dictatorship called Pakistan and deny India defensive weapons,” said Dr Jaishankar.
“So we are talking about principles. Let’s talk a little bit of history out here. So how did the Indian exposure to Russia and, previously, to the Soviet Union get built up? Because the Western democracies, for whatever reason, decided that their natural partner in our part of the world was a military dictatorship,” added Jaishankar in response to the anchor.
Subsequently, Jaishankar was questioned whether he considered India an ally of Russia, and in response, he said, “Oh, I think India doesn’t. We are an independent nation. We don’t define ourselves or perceive ourselves in alliance terms. That is very much western terminology. It’s not something. It’s not a term that we use.”