Union steel minister Ramchandra Prasad Singh on Sunday said India is “moving in the direction of importing coking coal from Russia”, as even several countries are shunning Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. His statement comes days after Russia offered crude oil and other commodities at discounted rates to India after the US and its allies imposed sanctions on Moscow.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Singh said India plans to double imports of Russian coking coal, a key ingredient in making steel, reported news agency Reuters. He said India had imported 4.5 million tonnes but did not reveal the period he was referring to.
Singh added that “smooth supplies” from Russia of coking coal have been affected, in an apparent reference to the war.
According to the report, vessels carrying at least 1.06 million tonnes of coking coal, mainly used for steelmaking, and thermal coal used primarily for electricity generation, are set to deliver the fuel to Indian ports by the end of March, the most since January 2020.
India is a major buyer of Russian goods from commodities to weapons. It has abstained from several key United Nations votes condemning the February 24 invasion.
Recently, India had abstained at the UN General Assembly on a resolution deploring Russian aggression against Ukraine and reiterated that differences can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.
The UNGA resolution was similar to the one circulated in the 15-nation Security Council last month, on which also India had abstained. The UNSC resolution, which received 11 votes in favour and three abstentions, was blocked after permanent member Russia exercised its veto.
The Reuters report, quoting traders, suggests that Russia, typically India’s sixth-largest supplier of coking and thermal coal, may offer more competitive prices to Chinese and Indian buyers as European and other customers spurn Russia because of sanctions.