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India buys Russian oil despite pressure for sanctions

FILE - A man fills his car at a gasoline station in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. The state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of...

FILE - A man fills his car at a gasoline station in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. The state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of...

NEW DELHI (AP) — The state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week to secure its energy needs, resisting Western pressure to avoid such purchases, an Indian government official said Friday.

The official said India has not imposed sanctions against buying oil and will be looking to purchase more from Russia despite calls not to from the U.S. and other countries.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The United States, Britain and other western countries are urging India to avoid buying Russian oil and gas. Indian media reports said Russia was offering a discount on oil purchases of 20% below global benchmark prices.

Such prices have surged in recent weeks, posing a huge burden for countries like India, which imports 85% of the oil it consumes. Its demand is projected to jump 8.2% this year to 5.15 million barrels per day as the economy recovers from the devastation caused by the pandemic.

White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki said earlier this week that Indian purchases of Russian oil wouldn’t violate U.S. sanctions, but urged India to “think about where you want to stand when history books are written.”

Asked by reporters about India buying oil from Russia, the spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry, Arindam Bagchi, said many European countries import Russian oil and gas.

“India imports most of its oil requirements. We are exploring all possibilities in the global energy market. I don’t think Russia has been a major oil supplier to India,” Bagchi said.

Iraq is India's top supplier with a 27% share. Saudi Arabia is second at around 17%, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 13% and the U.S. at 9%, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.