Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in India’s western state of Goa that it has billions of Indian rupees that it can’t use.
Russia has accumulated billions of rupees in Indian banks which it can’t use, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, pointing to a ballooning trade surplus with the South Asian nation.
“This is a problem,” Lavrov told reporters in India’s western state of Goa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting. “We need to use this money. But for this, these rupees must be transferred in another currency, and this is being discussed now.”
India’s total exports to Russia shrunk 11.6 percent to $2.8 billion in the first 11 months of the 2022-23 financial year, while imports rose nearly fivefold to $41.56 billion, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. That surge came as Indian refiners have scooped up discounted Russian oil in the past year that’s been shunned by the West in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Imports of Russian crude by India reached a record 1.68 million barrels a day in April, up sixfold on a year earlier, according to Vortexa Ltd, a data intelligence firm.
Subscribe to GreatGameIndia
The Kremlin initially encouraged India to trade in national currencies following sanctions on Russian banks and a ban on transactions using the SWIFT messaging system.
But volatility in the ruble soon after the war began meant plans for a rupee-ruble mechanism for oil imports were abandoned. India has resisted pressure from the US to scale back relations with Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.
The Financial Times has reported that a mysterious Mumbai-based company named Gatik Ship Management has been shipping large quantities of Russian oil.