India has taken exception to the suggestion by the US consulate (Mumbai) that Russian ships should not be allowed at Mumbai port and has asserted that it is New Delhi’s sovereign right to deal with global partners on national interests.
The surprise move has raised eyebrows at the South Block here as the US Consulate General in Mumbai wrote directly to the Mumbai Port Authority last month asking it to not allow Russian vessels to dock at the port because of American sanctions against vessels to dock at the port because of American sanctions against Russia. The Mumbai Port Authority has, in turn, written to the Directorate General of Shipping, which has asked the Ministry of External Affairs for instructions.
Sources told ET that it was India’s sovereign decision to engage with countries in national interests. The US later said the conversation with India was a private one. But sources here pointed out that such diplomatic conversations are not private. Members of the diplomatic community told ET that the move by the US consulate was unnecessary.
Expressing reservations against the US move, Derek J Grossman from the RAND Corporation and a keen watcher of India-US ties tweeted: “Seems Biden admin has shifted tactics when pressuring India. Instead of speaking directly to New Delhi, US consulate in Mumbai writes a letter to Mumbai Port Authority to bar Russian ships. Of course, New Delhi found out. Silly move by the US.”
India has not only emerged as the key importer of oil from Russia to meet its growing needs but also looking to expand its presence in oil assets of Far East Russia. ET had reported on Sunday that Russia has launched chartered vessel to supply critical raw material to India besides operationalisating International North South Transport Corridor to boost bilateral trade. And on Tuesday India announced international trade in national currencies that would boost Rupee-Rouble trade.
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