Russia has entered the ranks of India’s top five partners in trade, data from the Indian Department of Commerce shows. According to the figures, in the ten months of the fiscal year beginning in April 2022 and ending this month, turnover between the two countries has tripled.
Moscow is now in fifth place on the list, after the US, China, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. This marks the first time since the late 1990s, when India began tracking trade statistics, that Russia has entered the top-five. The country ranked 25th in fiscal year 2021-2022, and its best result was in 1997-1998, when it ranked 16th.
While in the previous fiscal year the trade turnover between the countries reached only $13.1 billion, in January 2023 it surpassed $39.7 billion, with the bulk – $37.3 billion – contributed by Russian exports to New Delhi.
Russian energy exports accounted for a large part of the surge in trade. India, the world’s third-largest crude importer, began to boost imports of Russian oil shortly after the start of the military operation in Ukraine and the ensuing Western sanctions. The restrictions resulted in Russia losing its traditional oil buyers in the West, and forced Moscow to seek alternative markets by introducing discounts on its energy.
New Delhi, which has repeatedly stressed that energy security is its top priority, chose not to succumb to Western pressure and continued to stock up on Russian supplies even after the EU embargo and the G7 price cap on Russian oil came into force late last year.As a result, India’s oil imports from Russia climbed to a record 1.62 million barrels per day in February, making the country India’s largest crude supplier for the fifth straight month. Russia now covers 35% of all India’s oil imports, up from less than 1% of India’s energy market in 2021.