Washington: President Joe Biden’s top economic adviser said the administration has warned India against aligning itself with Russia, and that U.S. officials have been “disappointed” with some of New Delhi’s reaction to the Ukraine invasion.
“There are certainly areas where we have been disappointed by both China and India’s decisions, in the context of the invasion,” the director of the White House National Economic Council, Brian Deese, told reporters at a breakfast Wednesday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
The U.S. has told India that the consequences of a “more explicit strategic alignment” with Moscow would be “significant and long-term,” he said.
While the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan have piled economic sanctions onto Russia in response to its war against Ukraine, India has declined and instead has sought to continue imports of Russian oil.
New Delhi’s reaction to the invasion is complicating its relationship with Washington, where India is regarded as an important partner in countering Chinese influence in Asia.
Deese’s comments come after Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh traveled to India last week for meetings with officials.
“What Daleep did make clear to his counterparts during this visit was that we don’t believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs didn’t respond to a message seeking comment sent after normal business hours.
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Wednesday again underlined the importance of New Delhi’s ties with Moscow.
Russia is an “important partner in a variety of areas,” the minister told parliament. “Like all other countries, we too are assessing the implications” of Russia’s war in Ukraine and “deciding what is best for our national interest.”
The U.S. and the rest of the Group of Seven nations will continue to collaborate with India and hope that they can align efforts to the greatest extent possible, a U.S. official said in a briefing for reporters Wednesday on new sanctions against Russia. India and the U.S. collaborate extensively on food security and global energy, the official said.
The official asked not to be identified as a condition of the briefing.
In addition to seeking Russian oil, India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian weapons. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has resisted entreaties from the U.S. and Australia to scale back the relationship, insisting that India needs Russian weapons to counter both Pakistan and China and that alternatives are too expensive, according to people familiar with the matter.