India’s foreign minister said on Wednesday the government is working to stabilise economic transactions with Russia, a day after India condemned killings of civilians in Ukraine and called for an independent probe.
S. Jaishankar told lawmakers in the Parliament that Russia continues to be a critical economic partner and efforts were underway to “stabilise economic transactions between India and Russia.”
Russia is India’s main supplier of defence hardware but overall annual trade is small, averaging about $9 billion in the past few years, mainly fertiliser and some oil.
Official sources have earlier stated that Indian government has been looking to establish a rupee-rouble trade system.
On Tuesday India’ permanent representative to the United Nations, told a meeting of the Security Council that India condemned the killings of civilians in Ukraine’s Bucha and called for an independent investigation.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians.
New Delhi has repeatedly called for an end to violence in Ukraine, but has abstained from various U.N. resolutions on the war as it balances its diplomatic ties with Moscow and the West.
Last month U.S. President Joe Biden said only India among the Quad group of countries was “somewhat shaky” in acting against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
While the other Quad countries – the United States, Japan and Australia – have sanctioned Russian entities or people, India has not imposed sanctions on its biggest supplier of military hardware.
Late last month, India’s steel minister said is leaning toward continuing to import coking coal from Russia, seeming to buck a global trend to shun Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking about the Ukraine crisis, Jaishankar told lawmakers that India has chosen the “side of peace”.
“This is our principled stand and has consistently guided our position in international forums and debates, including in the UN,” he said, adding that no solution can be arrived at by shedding blood and at the cost of innocent lives.
A federal lawmaker from Modi’s government said India must condemn the Russian invasion and welcomed the statement made by the Indian official at the UN.
“The Modi government’s change of stance on the Russian human rights brutality in Ukraine – as stated by our UN Ambassador in the UNSC yesterday – is welcome. Better late than never,” Subramanian Swamy said in a tweet.