A senior security adviser to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with India’s prime minister in Delhi on Wednesday to discuss their nations’ “mutual interests,” officials said, as Moscow continued its campaign to build stronger alliances with trading partners outside the bloc of Western countries helping Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion.
Mr. Putin’s top national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, “discussed matters of bilateral cooperation” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a statement from Russia’s Security Council. Mr. Patrushev, the council’s secretary, was in India for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes India and China.
Neither side gave details of the talks, but they come at a time when Moscow is seeking to drive a wedge between the West and two countries in particular, India and China, which have remained neutral on its decision to seize territory in Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of the country in February of last year set off the largest conflict in Europe since the Second World War.
India has tried to strike a delicate balance since then, seeking to avoid angering Russia while maintaining its expanding relations with the United States and Europe.
But India has also positioned itself as a champion of some of the world’s poorer nations, arguing that Western sanctions on Russia are hurting developing countries the most. Two week ago, a senior Indian official, Amitabh Kant, called on Europe to “find a solution” to the conflict, saying the war had brought development “to a standstill” in countries burdened with debt and recession in the difficult era created by the coronavirus pandemic.
While the United States and the European Union have tried to deplete Russia’s income by weaning themselves from its exports of natural gas and capping the price of Russian crude on global markets, India and China have both kept money flowing into Russia’s coffers by continuing to buy its crude oil — at the discounted prices.
India has ignored American pleas to reduce its energy purchases from Russia, defending its increased imports as a way to blunt the impact of rising costs for food and fuel.
Oil was on the agenda during Mr. Patrushev’s visit. He was accompanied by Igor Sechin, the chairman of the state-controlled Rosneft Oil Company. Mr. Sechin signed an agreement with the chairman of Indian Oil Corporation, Ltd., the country’s biggest government-owned refiner, that would increase its supplies and diversify the grades of oil being exported, Rosneft said in a statement. India’s oil and gas minister, Hardeep S. Puri, attended the signing, the statement said.