Josep Borrell urges EU to crack down on imports of Indian fuels made with Russian oil

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The European Union (EU) should crack down on India reselling Russian oil into Europe as refined fuels including diesel, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said in an interview with the Financial Times.

India has in the past year emerged as a top buyer of Russian oil, which has been rejected by Western nations amid sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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Access to cheap Russian crude has boosted output and profits at Indian refineries, enabling them to export refined products competitively to Europe and take bigger market share.

“If diesel or gasoline is entering Europe ... coming from India and being produced with Russian oil, that is certainly a circumvention of sanctions and member states have to take measures,” the bloc’s chief diplomat said.

“That India buys Russian oil, it’s normal ... But if they use that in order to be a center where Russian oil is being refined and by-products are being sold to us ...  we have to act,” Borrell said.

India’s imports of Russian crude in March rose for the seventh straight month to end out the fiscal year as top supplier to India, displacing Iraq for the first time.

India typically exported an average of 154,000 barrels per day (bpd) of diesel and jet fuel to Europe before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, that has increased to 200,000 bpd after the EU banned Russian oil products imports from February 5 this year, data from Kpler shows.

Any mechanism to stem the flow of Russian oil would need to be implemented by the national authorities, Borrell told the FT, suggesting that EU could target buyers of Indian refined fuels they believe are derived from Russian crude.

“If they sell, it is because someone is buying. And we have to look at who is buying,” he said.

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