India might buy Russian crude oil and other products at a discounted rate, two Indian officials said, signalling that Delhi wants to keep Moscow on board as a trading partner though the world is trying to isolate it through sanctions, for the war against Ukraine, Reuters reported.   

One of the officials said, “Russia is offering oil and other commodities at a heavy discount. We will be happy to take that”. 

India, a country that imports 80% of its oil needs, only relies on Russia for 2 to 3%, as per Reuters. However, with prices up by 40% thus far this year, the Indian government is trying to reduce its rising energy bill by turning to Moscow. 

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In recent weeks, US officials have said that they’d like India to distance itself from Russia as far as possible. Thus far, India has not condemned Russia’s troops being sent into Ukraine and has abstained from voting in the UN to stop what has been labelled as Russian aggression. 

How would US sanction India? 

The US has a domestic law called the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which imposes sanctions on countries that carry out significant transactions with North Korea, Iran, or Russia. 

Some have already asked India to pick a side 

Conservative talk show host Trish Regan has already said that India should expect to be sanctioned if it buys Russian crude oil. She warned “And, believe me, that won’t work out so well for India’s economy. Right now: you’re with US or you’re against us. Simple.” 

How does the US sanction work? 

Notably, the CAATSA allows sanctions against countries that have significant transactions with Russia’s intelligence and defence sectors. 

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India importing crude oil from Russia, would fall squarely in the energy sector. Moreover, the US recognizes India’s dependence on Russia for weaponry, with the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs saying, as per Reuters, “We recognize that India has a complicated history and relationship with Russia. The majority of the weapons that they buy are from the Russians”.