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New Delhi: Russian ambassador to India Denis Alipov said on Tuesday that barriers to bilateral trade due to sanctions imposed by the West due to the Ukraine war have been “overcome” and projected a 40% increase in trade volume for this year.
In an interview with Russia’s state-run Sputnik News, Alipov said that trade between January and April this year was around $6.4 billion, which was twice as much as the same period last year.
“If we maintain these volumes throughout the year, we will have a turnover of more than $19 billion by the end of 2022,” he said. Alipov observed that if this projection was met, it would mean a jump of 40% in annual trade. “To put this in context, let me remind you that in the previous year we had an absolute record of $13.6 billion,” he said.
The Russian envoy admitted that the sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine – which Moscow describes as a ‘special military operation’ – had caused “certain difficulties with supplying Russian goods to India and vice versa”.
“However, today, we have successfully overcome most of these barriers. We are confident that Indian exports to Russia (including science-intensive ones) will gain momentum in the near future,” he said.
India’s position on the Ukraine war has been to call for a cessation of violence, but New Delhi has also refrained from publicly criticising Moscow. Despite concerned noises from Western capitals, India has also increased its purchase of discounted Russian oil as energy prices sky-rocketed.
The Russian ambassador stated that the main task was to “adjust our trade and economic relations to the new realities, to synchronise the payment systems of the two countries, giving priority to the increased use of national currencies”.
He noted that the withdrawal of Western firms from the Russian market “opens up many new opportunities for Indian businesses”, especially in aviation, metallurgical industries, wood processing and consumer goods.
Even as the West has pushed out Russia from multilateral bodies, including United Nations Human Rights Council, India has abstained from voting on all resolutions criticising Moscow’s military aggression.
Alipov said Russia was “grateful to New Delhi for its objective assessment of the Ukrainian events”.
“India does not support attempts to isolate Russia in multilateral forums and is critical of the West’s wish to reduce the international agenda to the conflict in question, ignoring other key global and regional problems, which the West itself has exacerbated significantly,” he said.
The Russian envoy may have been referring to Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar accusing Europe of not taking a strident position when rules-based order was threatened in Asia.
Alipov added that it doesn’t mean New Delhi was in one camp or the other. “At the same time, we must be realistic about what is happening: India is interested in developing cooperation with the rest of the world, including the United States and Europe. National interests and the need to preserve strategic autonomy guide the Indians in their actions, rejecting the very idea of dividing lines and the paradigm of bloc confrontation,” he said.