As Ukraine’s allies seek to broaden the coalition of nations against Russia, the United States and Europe are working to persuade India to abandon its neutral stance in the war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday will join the Group of 7 summit in Germany, where Ukraine has been the focus. So far, U.S. overtures to persuade Mr. Modi to stop buying Russian oil have failed. Its purchases of Russian crude have doubled since the conflict’s start.
Four other nations with close relations to Russia — Argentina, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa — were also invited to the summit.
Mr. Modi has maintained a neutral stance on the war, calling for a resolution through diplomacy and dialogue. But India’s increasing trade with Russia has undercut U.S.-led efforts to starve the Kremlin of oil revenue.
Political observers say that the Biden administration probably views India as too essential a partner in its plans to contain China for it to seriously consider sanctioning India for increasing its trade with Russia.
Mr. Modi is scheduled to participate in sessions on climate, energy, health, food security and gender equality. During the summit, President Biden announced plans for an infrastructure fund, with G7 countries putting up billions of dollars for development projects in India and elsewhere as a counterweight to China’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative.
The meeting at Schloss Elmau, a retreat in the Bavarian Alps, comes amid a worsening situation in Ukraine that has not only set off a geopolitical crisis but also challenged energy and food security, particularly in developing countries.
While the U.S. and Europe are working to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, India and China have drastically increased their purchases, taking advantage of crude discounts of $30 per barrel.
When he was re-elected in 2019, Mr. Modi promised to double the size of India’s economy by 2024. His government said India’s growth depends upon reliable and affordable fuel supplies, and that sanctions on Iranian oil have left India with few other options.
At India increases its purchases of Russian oil, Europe has continued to buy the majority of Russian natural gas exported in recent months. Indian officials have criticized what they characterize as the hypocrisy of the West.
“Punishing India for getting a good deal, and doing it legally, is not on their immediate agenda,” said Samir N. Kapadia of the Vogel Group consultancy in Washington.
“However,” he added, “I don’t believe these record import levels will go unnoticed.”