The government does not ask Indian companies to buy oil from Russia but it is a sensible policy to get the best deal in the interest of the Indian people, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.
Responding to questions from members in the Upper House, the minister said it is his duty to put the interest of the Indian people first to ensure that they do not pay the cost of some other countries' actions or some other region's actions for fertilizer, food, etc.
"We do not ask our companies to buy Russian oil. We ask our companies to buy oil, what is the best option that they can get. Now it depends on what the market throws up.
"If tomorrow the market gives us more competitive options. Again, please do understand. It's not just that we buy oil from one country. We buy oil from multiple sources, but it is a sensible policy to go where we get the best deal in the interests of the Indian people and that is exactly what we are trying to do," Jaishankar said.
The US and European countries have been critical of India's oil imports from Russia during the Ukraine conflict, but New Delhi has remained firm on the issue.
On the Ukraine issue, Jaishankar said that the government's stand is publicly clear on the prime minister's level that this is not an era of war.
"We have consistently urged dialogue and diplomacy. When it comes to the impact of the war on the Indian people or the rest of the world, we have also done the right things. We have taken measures to soften the impact whether it is of fuel or whether it is of food inflation or whether it is fertiliser costs," the minister said.
In response to the question of DMK member Tiruchi Siva about students who have returned from Ukraine, Jaishankar said some of the students have gone back while some have looked for other solutions.
"In some cases, the Ukrainian authorities have offered some solutions. It is a very mixed picture.
"Unfortunately, there is no clean and simple answer here. But the government is doing what it can in this situation," Jaishankar said.