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Lavrov says Russia will ‘no longer rely’ on West for energy trade as Moscow pivots to India and China

Russia will no longer rely on partners in the West for its energy trade and its new energy policy will be oriented towards more reliable partners such as India and China, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister who was in Delhi for the foreign ministers’ G20 meeting was speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, a multilateral conference, in capital New Delhi on Friday.

Mr Lavrov was asked how the war affected Russia’s strategy on energy and whether it will pivot to Asia for its energy trade.

“The war which we are trying to stop was launched against us using Ukrainian people of course to influence the policy of Russia, including the energy policy.

“And the blunt way to describe what the change is: we would not anymore rely on any partners in the west. We would not allow them to blow the pipelines again,” Mr Lavrov responded.

He added that Russia will now supply energy to more reliable and credible partners.

“Energy policy of Russia will be oriented towards reliable and credible partners. India and China are certainly among them.”

India, which has close and historic defence and diplomatic ties with Russia, has become one of the major markets for Russian crude oil as it snapped up discounted crude oils while European nations imposed sanctions on Russian energy.

India and China are currently the largest single buyers of Russian crude oil as the G7 group of major economies imposed a price cap on Russian oil last year.

Mr Lavrov also tore into the US and said Moscow "will not let the West blow up gas pipelines again", referring to the Kremlin’s accusation that Western countries were responsible for the sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines in September.

Gas has leaked from the pipeline in the Baltic Sea (Swedish Coast Guard via Getty Im)
Gas has leaked from the pipeline in the Baltic Sea (Swedish Coast Guard via Getty Im)

“Everything which is happening now is to reduce Europe to a subordinate player of the US and undercut European competitive edge and of course to ruin the economic link between Russia and the EU,” he said.

He referred to Pulitzer-award winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s report that suggested the US and allies were behind the blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines in September. The blasts last year caused major damage to three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, which were designed to send gas from Russia into Europe via Germany through a tunnel under the Baltic sea.

The White House has denied reports that the US was behind the explosions, calling the claims "utterly false and complete fiction". The CIA and the State Department also denied the claims.

Russia has however demanded a UN investigation on September’s sabotage of the pipeline, saying it "fully trusts" UN secretary-general António Guterres to establish an independent international investigation of the explosions.

Mr Lavrov, who held his own press conference following the G20 meet with entry restricted to limited members of the media, said Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang joined Russia in pushing G20 members to include the Nord Stream issue in the G20 communique.

He said "the majority of developing nations in the G20 expressed understanding" for Russia raising the issue, which was not included in the final outcome document, Sputnik News reported.

"Our call for the necessary to conduct an impartial, honest investigation was flatly rejected by our Western partners. Therefore, due to their position, the declaration was blocked and the results of the discussion will be presented in a summary delivered by the Indian chairmanship, which I hope will objectively reflect the exchange of views that took place," the Russian top diplomat said.

The crucial foreign ministers’ G20 meeting failed to reach a consensus to adopt a joint communique as the Ukraine war derailed the meeting.

Mr Lavrov announced that a joint statement could not be finalised moments before Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar made the announcement in a press briefing concluding the G20 meeting.

Mr Jaishankar said there would be no statement agreed by all nations “because there were differences on the Ukraine issue which we could not reconcile”.

Mr Lavrov and US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke face-to-face for the first time about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on the sidelines of a G20 meeting where ministers traded blame over the conflict.

The two diplomats spoke for 10 minutes in an exchange that Russian media has said was “on the move” after Mr Blinken urged a contact.

"Blinken asked for contact with Lavrov. Sergey Viktorovich talked with him on the go, as part of the second session of the G20. There were no negotiations, meetings, etc," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.