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Could EU Use Energy As A Weapon Of War In Russia-Ukraine War Against India?
Dr. Bawa Singh, Nippun Gupta and Abdul Wasi
2023-05-24
Region : India, Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Economy,
Issue : Military Issues,
The Russo-Ukraine War has sparked widespread interest as a significant global conflict with far-reaching implications for regional stability and international relations. The conflict has been characterised by a number of military encounters and political tensions between Russia and Ukraine since its start in 2014. A variety of complex factors, such as territorial disputes, ethnic tensions, and geopolitical interests, have characterised the war. As a result, it has emerged as a critical issue for both scholars and policymakers seeking to understand the underlying causes of the conflict and its potential impacts on the international community as a whole.
The ongoing Russo-Ukraine conflict has presented a complex set of challenges for India, a significant regional power with distinct geopolitical interests. As a result, India is currently navigating the complexities of the conflict in order to determine the most prudent course of action. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has piqued the interests of the international community, including India.
The Russo-Ukraine War has been ongoing since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, a region that was previously part of Ukraine. When pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared independence, the conflict erupted into a full-fledged war between the two countries on February 24, 2022. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and caused significant damage to Ukraine’s multilateral infrastructure and economy.
The conflict has far-reaching consequences for India’s foreign policy as well. India has traditionally taken a neutral stance in the conflict, but the ongoing conflict has placed India in an awkward position given the complicated nature of its relations with Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union. India maintains close ties with both Russia and Ukraine, and any stance taken by India could jeopardise its relations with either. The principles of non-alignment and strategic autonomy have always guided India’s foreign policy. India has traditionally taken a neutral stance in international conflicts, advocating for the peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and diplomacy.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, on the other hand, poses a unique challenge to India’s foreign policy. India and Russia have a long-standing strategic partnership that has been developed over several decades. Russia has been an important supplier of defence equipment to India, and the two countries have been working together on national, regional, and international issues, including the emerging new world order, counter-terrorism, energy security, etc. India, on the other hand, has established close ties with Ukraine, particularly in the areas of defence and space cooperation. In this situation, it has become critical for India to maintain a neutral stance in terms of not taking sides with warring parties, abstaining from voting over the conflict in the UN against Russia, calling for a peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy etc. India has also expressed its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Some EU countries have criticised India’s neutrality as being too cautious and not taking a firm stance on the issue. The European Union (EU) recently expressed its displeasure with India’s stance on the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War. The EU has criticised India’s stance as being too lenient towards Russia, which has been accused of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While India has remained neutral in the conflict, it has been reprimanded for failing to take a stronger stance against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The EU is concerned about India’s unwillingness to condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The EU has emphasised the importance of upholding international law as well as territorial integrity and sovereignty principles. It has urged India to back efforts to end the conflict peacefully and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
India is a rapidly developing country with an expanding economy, and the importance of energy in sustaining that growth cannot be overstated. The energy sector is an important part of India’s economy because it powers various industries, transportation etc. India is the world’s third-largest energy consumer, with a high energy demand. According to the India Energy Outlook 2021 report, India ranks third in terms of primary energy consumption. This demonstrates the country’s expanding energy demand, as there is a considerable gap between demand and consumption. India’s primary energy consumption has increased by 3.3% per year since 2000, owing to rapid economic growth and urbanisation. Russia has been providing oil at a cheaper price, which is becoming a contentious issue between the EU and India.

The EU’s Dependence on Russian Energy
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When it comes to energy, particularly oil and natural gas, the EU is heavily reliant on Russia. This reliance has long been a source of concern, as it exposes the European Union to energy blackouts and provides Russia with a foothold in international politics. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has heightened these concerns, sparking discussions about energy security and diversification. Therefore, the European Union has taken several steps to reduce its reliance on Russia for energy. The European Commission has made energy diversification a priority, funding projects such as the Southern Gas Corridor and the Baltic Pipe. These initiatives are progressing towards their goal of establishing alternative gas transportation routes and strengthening energy ties with non-Russian suppliers. The EU has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s efforts to reform its energy sector and diversify its energy market. The EU has provided both financial and technical assistance to Ukraine in order to improve its energy infrastructure and foster greater openness and efficacy in the country’s energy markets.
Along with some of the above-mentioned steps, the EU’s efforts have been met with some difficulties. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in particular, has been a contentious issue in the context of the Russo-Ukraine conflict. Critics argue that the pipeline will increase Europe’s reliance on Russia, while supporters of the same argue that it is a commercial project that will improve energy security. The EU has imposed certain pipeline regulations in order to mitigate potential risks to competition and energy security.

Energy as a Weapon of War
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The relationship between export revenues and the war is a complicated story unfolding in international relations in general and the ongoing Russo-Ukraine conflict in particular. There is no doubt that revenues from oil and gas exports have bolstered the Russian economy and allowed it to invest in the military forces, which is currently fighting Ukraine. Similarly, there is no doubt that Western sanctions have had a significant impacts on the Russian economy, imposing costs that were not anticipated by Russia’s leadership. However, it is unclear how energy sanctions will aid in the victory of the war. A weapon is most effective when it is directed at a specific target; however, it is unclear what the Western weaponization of energy exports is intended to achieve?
As a result of Russia’s tactical actions in Ukraine, the EU imposed sanctions on a variety of industries, including the energy sector. Individual, economic, and energy sanctions are designed to effectively thwart Russia’s ability to continue its aggression by imposing severe consequences on Russia for its actions.
The EU is not only imposed sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, but other countries were also asked not to import Russian energy. India’s neutral stance has become a source of concern for the EU, as the former has not distanced itself from any party involved in the Russo-Ukraine conflict. Furthermore, these measures limited the amount of technology that could be transferred to Russian energy projects and restricted Russian energy companies’ access to EU markets. Despite the fact that these sanctions were not intended to directly use energy as a weapon, they did have an impact on Russia’s energy sector as well as the country’s ability to finance military operations. India has been importing Russian oil, which is also sold on the EU market. The Russo-Ukraine War has implications for India’s relations with the EU as well as its broader foreign policy objectives in this complex situation.

Would EU Sanctions be Imposed on India?
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The EU is India’s largest trading partner and investor, and any differences in foreign policy could have economic and political ramifications. Furthermore, India’s stance on the conflict may have ramifications for its relations with other countries in the region, including Russia and Ukraine. Finally, the EU’s criticism of India’s position on the Russo-Ukraine War emphasises the importance of adhering to international law as well as the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty. India’s stance on the conflict has implications for its relations with the EU as well as its broader foreign policy goals. It remains to be seen how India responds to the EU’s concerns and whether it will take a more aggressive stance in the future or not?
Recently, tensions between the EU and India have risen as a result of the Russo-Ukraine War and India’s oil imports. Chief Josep Borrell, a foreign policy representative of the EU, hinted at a crackdown on India’s alleged sale of Russian oil as refined fuel, circumventing the EU’s sanctions against Russia. Borell’s statement came at a time when India’s crude oil imports from Russia had more than tenfold increase over the previous year. According to the data, India was able to reduce its expenditures by about $5 billion by increasing its purchases of Russian crude oil. In this context, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar responded on May 17 and advised EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to look at EU Council regulations.
For what reasons, the EU making India a victim in this case? The EU’s threat to impose sanctions on India for importing Russian oil is a major source of concern for Indian policymakers. The EU’s potential move to impose sanctions on India reflects the EU’s and Russia’s ongoing geopolitical tensions, as well as the EU’s efforts to assert its influence in the global energy market. The EU’s stance on India importing Russian oil stems from its opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its involvement in Ukraine’s ongoing war. The EU has imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia, including restrictions on its energy sector, in an effort to put pressure on Moscow to change its war-mongering ways.
The EU’s potential move to sanction India for importing Russian oil is a continuation of this policy and reflects the EU’s desire to limit Russia’s influence in the global energy market. However, the EU’s potential move to sanction India raises several concerns. To begin, it is unclear whether the EU has the legal authority to sanction India for importing Russian oil. Second, the EU’s decision may have significant economic consequences for India, which is heavily reliant on oil imports to meet its energy needs. Third, the EU’s move may strain relations with India, a critical strategic partner in the region.
Finally, the EU’s consideration of imposing sanctions on India for its imports of Russian oil is a complex issue that requires careful reconsideration on the part of the EU. The EU’s decision could have significant geo-economic and geopolitical repercussions despite its opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. It is critical that the EU engage in dialogue with India and other stakeholders in order to find a mutually beneficial solution to this problem. In light of this, the Russo-Ukraine War appears to pose significant policy challenges for India’s foreign policy. India’s traditional neutrality and non-alignment stance have been tested, and the country must carefully balance its relations with both Russia and Ukraine. India can resist all pressure and remain committed to the principles of strategic autonomy and peaceful dispute resolution through dialogue and diplomacy.
About the authors:
• Dr. Bawa Singh, Department of South and Central Asian Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (India).
• Nippun Gupta, Ph.D. Research Scholar at the Department of South and Central Asian Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (India).
• Abdul Wasi, Ph.D. Research Scholar at the Department of South and Central Asian Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (India).
This article originally appeared in Eurasia Review
The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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