India may face a “great risk” if Russian oil imports into the country are increased, an official from United States President Joe Biden’s administration warned. The news comes as the West prepares to boost sanctions on Moscow due to its ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

 While giving some wiggle room to New Delhi, the unnamed administration official said in a statement to Reuters, “US has no objection to India buying Russian oil provided it buys it at discount, without significantly increasing from previous years.”

Media reports suggest that India-based organisations have swept through the untapped oil buying opportunities offered by Russia following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. 

As Western sanctions pile on Moscow, Indian purchasers are buying the oil with huge rebates. The pro-Ukrainian bloc has largely stopped buying from Russia.

At least 13 million barrels of oil have already been purchased by India- based companies after Ukraine was invaded by Russian forces. In contrast, only 16 million barrels were purchased through 2021, according to reports from Reuters.

When asked about India’s purchase of oil from Russia, a spokesperson from the United States State Department said, “We continue to engage our partners in India and around the world on the importance of a strong collective action, including strong sanctions, to press the Kremlin to end its devastating war of choice against Ukraine as soon as possible.”

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Gina Raimondo, United States Secretary of Commerce, said in a statement, “Now is the time to stand on the right side of history, and to stand with the United States and dozens of other countries, standing up for freedom, democracy and sovereignty with the Ukrainian people, and not funding and fueling and aiding President Putin’s war”, Bloomberg reported.

Australia also joined the United States in criticising India’s move to keep buying oil from Russia.