NEW DELHI: An Excerpt from ‘Talking Point‘, with Ambassador P.S. Raghavan, Former Head of India’s National Security Advisory Board and Ex-Envoy to Russia and Seema Sirohi, Columnist at ‘The Economic Times’ in analysis with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi.
Watch the complete conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rzF0Jq3770&t=27s
APR: We analyze a lot about escalation when it comes to U.S/NATO/the west/Ukraine vs Russia, but in terms of escalation of sanctions, what is the mood like in the US in terms of secondary sanctions? Do you visualize that happening in terms of whether it’s energy or whether it’s CAATSA/S-400s on defense deals?
SS: So there’s pressure from the U.S. Congress on the administration to apply more sanctions and to consider secondary sanctions. There is a core group in the White House that’s looking into it. That would mean that anyone who does any business with sanctioned entities would come under sanctions. So, that would sort of expand the ambit of the sanctions which are already quite devastating. But, what I would like to say about oil. I want to make one point that maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves and thinking that India is going to buy much more oil from Russia. In general, in the past, India has been very cautious when a country has been sanctioned. We tried to reduce our exposure to that country. We did that with Iran. So I don’t think it’s going to be that India’s running to get every good deal that’s in the market. As for sanctions, despite the pressure from the U.S. Congress, so far, the administration has not taken the step. They understand and I think in all the diplomatic traffic that’s coming through New Delhi, I’m sure the Indian side has explained the after effects. Firstly, they’re going to be more severe on the developing world. Secondly, they will come back to bite the West as well. Eventually, I want to know how long the Americans will pay $6 a gallon at the pump. I’ll say give it one month, and things might change.
APR: Just wanted to get your thoughts a little bit more about sanctions. You were talking about loopholes, whether it’s the U.S., whether it’s the West or Japan, which is also still involved in the Sakhalin project, in terms of the hypocrisy that all these countries who are pressurizing us in various manners,are working.
PSR: No, I would not call it hypocrisy. That is too strong a word. But, obviously the intention is when you impose sanctions, you want to protect yourself from the impact of those sanctions and try to see other people abide by those sanctions to have that effect on your adversary that you want. And there are a number of areas where various sanction imposing countries have actually created carve-outs for themselves. In the case of Japan, Japan also is party to the sanctions, but it has announced that it will not withdraw from the Sakhalin II project. Japan is an investor in the Sakhalin II project and it’s an operator of that project. It has announced that it will not withdraw from it. Why? Because its energy interests require it. So, everybody has an interest, everybody is sort of creating conditions so that their energy interests are not impacted. I don’t think there’s anything wrong about it as such. And I think it’s quite obvious that they will try to make you toe the line and if you don’t toe the line, they will understand that you’re not toeing the line. I think it’s just trying to see how far they can go with you. Now, as far as sanctions are concerned, there’s one more country that I think is very important to mention, which is Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO. And Turkey has clearly announced that it will not abide by the sanctions. It will not impose sanctions on Russia. And Turkey is very active in keeping Black Sea ports open for trade out of Russia through the Bosphorus, which of course Turkey in a sense controls. So, you know you have even within NATO ranks, a country that has very clearly said it will not abide by the sanctions. And of course the UAE has said that as well.