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‘Modi govt does not feel pressure’: Hardeep Singh Puri takes CNN journalist to cleaners after she tries to ‘guilt-trip’ India about Russian oil purchases

"We have many backup plans and we are not looking at the situation with the same lens as you. We are having healthy discussions with the West and the European Union. I think this is something (conflict) that you are creating in a TV studio," he added.

On Monday (October 31), India’s Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Singh Puri, slammed CNN in an interview for trying to trick the country into guilt for purchasing oil from Russia (amidst the ongoing war against Ukraine).

At the very onset, CNN journalist Becky Anderson accused India of benefitting from discounted oil imports from Russia and having no qualms about the invasion of Ukraine. The skewed and flawed perspective about India’s oil imports drew the ire of Hardeep S Puri.

“The purchases of Russian oil was 0.2% in the last Financial Year. Europe buys in one afternoon what we buy from Russia in one quarter. Let’s be clear about the perspective,” Hardeep Singh Puri said.

The Union Minister clarified that the largest supplier of oil to India was Iraq in the month of September this year. “We owe our moral duty to our consumers. We have a 1.34 billion population and we have to ensure that they are supplied with energy (whether it is petrol or diesel),” he pointed out.

Puri further added, “The Government reduced its revenue to ensure that the prices of the petrol pump did not go up… We have 60 million people going to the petrol pumps.”

He dismissed reports of ‘moral conflict’ about India’s decision to buy Russian oil. “We do not buy from X or Y. We buy whatever is available. I don’t do the buying. It’s the oil companies that do…The government does not do the buying. Oil trade is conducted by economic entities,” he emphasised.

I do not answer hypothetical questions: Hardeep Singh Puri to CNN

The Union Petroleum Minister pointed out that India has purchased oil from Guyana, Canada and even the United States. “We will buy oil and gas for wherever we can get it,” he stated

The CNN journalist asked the Indian Minister about the consequences if the US or the European Union coerced the country against buying Russian oil. “I do not answer hypothetical questions. If the EU wants to come up with something, they will talk to us,” Hardeep Singh Puri outlined.

“We have many backup plans and we are not looking at the situation with the same lens as you. We are having healthy discussions with the West and the European Union. I think this is something (conflict) that you are creating in a TV studio,” he added.

We are the 5th largest economy, not under any external pressure: Indian Minister

A rattled Becky Anderson then claimed that the assertion was ‘not fair.’ Hardeep Singh Puri responded, “I have just come back from the United States…I have said that on record – We do not feel any pressure. Modi’s government doesn’t feel pressure. We are the 5th largest economy in the world.”

“When you have an increase in oil prices, they have consequences. One of them includes inflation and recession. This also implies that we will transition to green energy alternatives faster,” he said.

When quizzed about the opportunity for energy diversification, Puri responded, “I think some people are not aware of the fact…We are the one country in the world that has demonstrated that we can bring the cost of solar energy down from 25 cents to 3 cents.”

Hardeep Singh Puri outlines India’s roadmap to energy diversification

“If you want to make green hydrogen, then, what do you need? You need cheap power and electrolysers. We are getting both. We have one of the most comprehensive and ambitious green hydrogen plants in the world,” he emphasised

Puri further informed that biofuel blending has risen from 2% in 2014 to 10% in 2022. “If you want to make the transition from the current position to green energy, then, we have to survive the present. And that is where high oil prices have unintended consequences (such as inflation and recession),” he said.

“The good news is that we are transitioning to green energy faster,” Hardeep Singh Puri told the CNN journalist.

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