Talks are being held over amount of oil availability, freight, payment and other issues, says India's oil minister, amid Western attempts to dissuade countries from purchasing Russian crude oil over its Ukraine offensive.

New Delhi is also mulling setting up a rupee-rouble trade mechanism for paying for oil and other goods, according to local media reports.
New Delhi is also mulling setting up a rupee-rouble trade mechanism for paying for oil and other goods, according to local media reports. (Reuters)

India is exploring options for buying Russian crude oil, authorities have said, with prices there plunging to record lows in the wake of a global backlash to the Ukraine conflict.

Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday the government was having conversations "at the appropriate level of the Russian Federation" regarding the purchase.

"Discussions are currently under way. There are several issues to be gone into like how much oil is available," he told parliament.

Puri added that the government was weighing issues related to insurance, freight and payment for the crude.

New Delhi enjoys historic diplomatic and defence ties with Moscow, hosting a rare overseas trip by President Vladimir Putin late last year, and has called for an end to the violence in Ukraine but stopped short of condemning the assault.

Its government is looking to cut a spiralling energy bill after oil prices surged in the wake of the conflict, at the same time as a US embargo prompts other potential buyers to shun Russian oil.

READ MORE: India in bind over Russian arms amid standoff with China, Pakistan

India-Russia trade under US sanctions

Many countries, including European nations, remain heavily dependent on fuel from Russia, the world's second-largest crude oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia.

India — the world's third-largest crude importer — currently buys only about three percent of its supplies from Russia, according to government data.

New Delhi is also mulling setting up a rupee-rouble trade mechanism for paying for oil and other goods, according to local media reports.

Crude oil prices slipped to around $100 per barrel on Tuesday, extending their plunge on markets after reaching a near 14-year high last week.

The Ukraine crisis has left India facing a diplomatic dilemma after years of close ties with Russia that began during the Cold War, with Moscow still by far its biggest arms supplier.

Late last year it began taking delivery from Russia of the S-400 missile defence system that it agreed to buy for over $5 billion in 2018, despite the threat of US sanctions.

At the same time, it needs Western support to contend with its increasingly assertive neighbour, China, in the wake of increasingly fractious territorial disputes that escalated into a deadly border clash in 2020.

READ MORE: India's Modi under mounting pressure to condemn Russia over Ukraine

Source: TRTWorld and agencies