NEW DELHI: Russia will increase its use of non-Western currencies for trade with countries such as India, its foreign minister said on Friday, as he hailed India as a friend that was not taking a “one-sided view” on the Ukraine war.
Sergei Lavrov visited India on a mission to shore up support from a country Russia has long regarded as an ally a day after US and British officials pressed India to avoid undermining the dollar-based financial system and sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. India and China are the only major countries that have not condemned what Russia calls its “special military operation”. After Lavrov visited China this week, Beijing said it was “more determined” to develop bilateral ties with Russia.
“We are friends,” Lavrov told a news conference after meeting his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, adding India saw the Ukraine crisis in the “entirety of facts and not just in a one-sided way”.
Lavrov said Russia’s central bank had several years ago established a system for the communication of financial information and India had a similar system.
“It is absolutely clear that more and more transactions would be done through this system using national currencies, bypassing dollar, euro and other currencies,” he said.
Russia is the biggest supplier of defence equipment to India and Lavrov said the two countries would use a rupee-rouble mechanism to trade oil, military hardware and other goods.
“We will be ready to supply any goods which India wants to buy,” he said.
“I have no doubt that a way would be (found) to bypass the artificial impediments which illegal unilateral sanctions by the West create. This relates also to the area of military technical cooperation.”
Lavrov said there was some movement forward in negotiations with Ukraine.
“Non-nuclear, non-bloc, neutral status – it is now being recognised as absolutely necessary,” he said.
Lavrov was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi before departing on Friday evening.