The United States remains hopeful that it can align its policy with India “to the extent possible” on sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior US official.
“India is our friend, India is our partner and we share interests, and we share fundamental principles that are at stake in this conflict,” the official said on Wednesday.
“We had long discussions about ways to strengthen our cooperation on global food security, on global energy supply, and certainly in terms of recognizing that the brutality of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin affects us all,” he said. said the official who briefed reporters on condition that he could not be identified.
The official was responding to a reporter’s question about India and the latest round of sanctions imposed on Russia and how far it has moved towards “convergence” with the United States on the issue.
“The geopolitical implications of Russia’s actions have ripple effects,” the official said.
“And, of course, we remain hopeful that we can have a line-up where possible,” the official added.
A test of the degree of alignment in the two countries’ approaches may come as early as Thursday when the United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote on a US proposal to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.
On Monday, India issued its strongest statement yet on Ukraine condemning atrocities allegedly committed by Russian troops retreating from Bucha and calling for an independent investigation.
Reacting to images of killings and atrocities against civilians in Bucha, the United States announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia’s largest financial institution Sberbank and Alfa Bank, as well as members of Putin’s family, the minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and other officials.
There is an obsession that reflects what can best be described as the racially differentiated approach of American liberal mainstream media to sanctions and India.
In a pointed example, NBC network correspondent Andrea Mitchell, in an interview aired Wednesday, asked Blinken, “Why don’t we sanction China and India” because they “keep buying fuel to Russia and fueling this war, helping to fund Putin’s war”.
And while she admitted that “there are big gaps and that Europe is still buying natural gas and will still do so for another year”, she did not suggest sanctioning European countries for buying natural gas. Russian energy as it did for India and China.
Blinken did not answer his question about sanctions against India and China.
During the White House briefing by President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, a reporter asked about ‘pressure’ on India not to work with or bring to Russia help.
PSAKI pointed out that India only imports 1-2% of its oil from Russia and said, “We stand ready to support India in all its efforts to diversify its imports and serve as a reliable supplier.”
On the part of the reporter’s question whether the absence of an ambassador has an impact on how the United States can put pressure on India, Psaki said: “We are also engaging with the countries through various channels.”
She referred to the recent visit to New Delhi by Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh, who she said conveyed “clearly what the consequences of a sanctions violation would be and what the mechanisms are”.
He also made it “clear that we don’t think India should accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other raw materials, although obviously these decisions are made by individual countries,” she said. declared.
The appointment of Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India has come up against a blockade in the Senate, which must approve the appointment of emissaries.
Due to questions if the mayor of Los Angeles was aware of sexual harassment allegations against a close aide and failed to act, two Republican senators blocked the nomination from coming to the Senate for a vote, even though it was approved by the Senate. Foreign Relations Committee.
In an evenly divided Senate, Biden’s Democratic Party will need the support of all of its 50 senators to accept the nomination without the support of any Republican senators.
But some Democrats are reluctant to declare their support for Garcetti.
PSAki reiterated that Biden was on his side.
New Delhi is “an incredibly important diplomatic position”, she said.
The senior administration official’s mention of “in-depth discussions on ways to strengthen our cooperation on global food security” opens another avenue for cooperation between the United States and India – and perhaps the Quad – on a global issue.
Exports from the world’s largest wheat exporter, Russia, and the fifth-largest exporter, Ukraine, were disrupted by the invasion, leading the United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) to warn that a food crisis affecting in particular developing countries is imminent because the availability of wheat and its prices will be affected.
India is the world’s second-largest wheat producer after China, but its exports have been weak – around 5.5 million tonnes last year, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.
While its domestic consumption is large, India has a huge stockpile of wheat estimated at around 100m tonnes – far more than a safety net would require and New Delhi could step in to make up some of the shortfall. global food.
As a model for this, India has provided Covid-19 vaccines around the world, especially to developing countries and under a joint humanitarian program of the Quad – the Indo-Pacific group of India, United States, Japan and Australia – India is to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine for distribution to developing countries.
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