India imported $3.3 billion in goods to Russia in 2021, and the finance ministry has no plans to slow that source of revenue. India has not placed sanctions on Russia. The Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) announced that India will now switch to a SWIFT alternative that permits rupee-ruble payments between the two nations. This renders removing Russia from the SWIFT system a moot point for India as exporters may continue business as usual with their Russian partners. Furthermore, this will permit India to continue purchasing Russian energy at a time when other countries are shunning the resources they need the most.
In fact, India is hoping to profit off of the West’s ban on Russian exports. “Export to Russia is not much, only in agriculture and pharmacy products. Now that the whole of the West is banning Russia, there will be a lot of opportunities for Indian firms to enter Russia,” a member of the FIEO stated. Indian Oil Corp has begun purchasing more oil from Russia and there are talks of purchasing highly sought-after fertilizer from both Russia and Belarus.
India, the largest oil importer in the world, was only purchasing around 2% to 5% of their crude from Russia in recent years, but with the prospect of seeing a heavy discount, they are likely to turn to Russia instead of the Middle East. “Countries with oil self-sufficiency or those importing themselves from Russia cannot credibly advocate restrictive trading,” an Indian government official cited weeks ago.
So if there is an easy solution for rupee-ruble payments, we should expect to see an easy solution for yuan-ruble payments. These nations are looking at finances rather than politics and will profit as a result.