EU looking at petroleum products made from Russian crude oil in India finding way to its market

New Delhi: The EU on Saturday voiced concerns over “rapid” rise in refined petroleum products made from Russian crude oil in India finding way to the European market, saying it defies the purpose of the sanctions against Moscow that are aimed at reducing its ability to finance the war with Ukraine.

The European Union’s Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said oil products processed from Russian crude oil are arriving at the European market in “large quantities” and the grouping is looking at ways to deal with it.

In an interaction with a small group of journalists, the EU Vice President, currently on a visit to India, accused Russia of using its energy supplies, and food as “tools” of “war and manipulation” to continue its attack on Ukraine.

On the issue of food, Dombrovskis cited Russia withdrawing from the Black Sea grain initiative and blocking Ukraine’s export of food grain to the world market.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the Western powers have imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow including a price cap on Russian oil by G7-plus nations, in order to reduce its ability to finance the war on Ukraine.

Notwithstanding the restrictions, India’s procurement of discounted crude oil from Russia has witnessed a major upswing in the last over one year.

“We are obviously aware that a number of countries, including China and India have not joined those sanctions. We are aware that Russia is actively seeking alternative markets for the lost European market,” Dombrovskis said.

The EU trade commissioner said this while asked about India’s increasing trade relations with Russia, especially its procurement of discounted Russian crude oil.

“We indeed see new trade patterns emerging. Those are some issues which are also the new developments which we are currently assessing. For example, what we see is now a rapid increase of refined oil products, so to say, imports in the EU from India.

“But if they are made with Russian oil, in a sense it defies the purpose which we are putting in front of us as the EU, as a Western democratic world, to reduce Russia’s ability to wage the civil war,” he said.

“So this is something which will provide some reflection on that,” the top trade official added.

Dombrovskis said a series of sanctions were imposed against Russia, including in the area of exports of oil and oil products as energy supply is Russia’s “biggest source” of revenue.

“We want to reduce Russia’s ability to finance the war,” he said.

On EU’s trade ties with India, the Trade Commissioner said the grouping is looking at significantly expanding economic engagement with New Delhi.

“The EU is India’s second largest trading partner, accounting for some 120 billion euros worth of trading last year, which is 10.8 per cent of total Indian trade.

“And India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2 per cent of EU total trade. But at the same time, we see that there is still lots of untapped potential,” he said.

Dombrovskis said the EU is looking at making sure that its trade and investment cooperation with India becomes “much more intense”.

“We know that we are currently working in a conflictual geopolitical situation. And in this context, the value of trust and reliability has increased substantially,” he said.

“So, we also see Russia’s instrumentalisation of its energy supplies and now food as tools (of) weapons of war and manipulation – there is no such thing as just goods or political trade,” the trade official said.

“So it’s all linked together, trade matters, geopolitics. But also friendships matter. So that’s why the EU-India strategic partnership is so important,” he said.