US Warns India Against Significant Increase in Russian Oil Imports

India has been buying Russian oil at a discount since the invasion started

A Biden administration official told Reuters that a significant rise in Russian oil imports by India could expose New Delhi to “great risks” as Washington is stepping up its threats against India for its cooperation with Moscow.

US sanctions currently have exemptions for oil deals, as many European countries are reliant on Russian energy. But the comments suggest that the US might take the step to start targeting Russian oil sales.

India has been taking advantage of cheap Russian oil and has purchased at least 13 million barrels of oil since the attack on Ukraine started on February 24. In all of 2021, India only imported 16 million barrels.

The Biden official, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said that the US has “has no objection to India buying Russian oil provided it buys it at discount, without significantly increasing from previous years.” The official said that the US would “allow” some increases.

The Biden administration recently threatened to hit India with sanctions over its stockpile of Russia’s arms and has been critical of New Delhi’s stance on the invasion of Ukraine. India has called for an end to the fighting but has abstained from condemning Russia’s attack.

The pressure from the US doesn’t seem to be doing much as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in New Delhi for talks. Lavrov and his Indian counterparts are expected to discuss a Russian proposal to make rupee-ruble-denominated payments using a Russian alternative to the SWIFT messaging system.

The US and its allies imposed sanctions to cut off some Russian banks from SWIFT, which is the primary messaging system used for international financial transactions. In another response to the US-led sanctions campaign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will stop selling gas to “unfriendly” European countries if they don’t pay in rubles starting Friday.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.