In an interaction with TOI, German ambassador to India Philipp Ackermann said Germany won’t tell India what to do on either importing oil from Russia or on the issue of G7’s proposed price cap on Russian oil but underlined that countries like India and Germany shared the same values.
Ackermann, who recently took office as ambassador to India, also said the proposed price cap on Russian oil was a complicated issue and not something that would come into effect overnight.
“PM’s remark about this not being the era of war to Putin was very well put. With the partial mobilisation and renewed threat of nuclear weapons, the situation has changed in the international context. We are seeing a land grab of the crudest nature and now a sham referendum in a country which does not belong to Russia and also during war time. Russia has not been able to achieve what it wanted to achieve and is now going an extra mile,” said Ackermann.
“Telling a country like India what to do is out of question. But you have to look at the problem with a very general point of view. What’s happening in Europe is a breathtakingly blatant violation of international law and it’s all about the safety of borders. And if your borders can’t be safe, you should be concerned. And that’s where India has something to think about,” added the ambassador, recalling that when he met President Droupadi Murmu to present his credentials, she told him India and Germany shared the same democratic values.
Asked about India’s criticism that Europe hasn’t paid enough attention to the violation of rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, Ackermann said Germany will be seen a lot more in the region politically and that a repeat visit by German frigate Bayern was likely.
“We share the same approach to international law. But you have to look at the dimensions of the conflict. Russia is now occupying 20 per cent of Ukraine’s land. Imagine a neighbour of India doing the same. This is going beyond everything we have seen so far. But it’s a fact that you can’t violate borders. Borders must be safe,” said Ackermann, adding that Germany looks at China in many ways as a reason for concern in the area.
“We look closely at how India deals with China. Countries are under stress. We have strong business ties with China but like we have seen with Russia, it’s not good to be dependent on any country. Diversification is important,” said the ambassador.
While the G7 is working out details of its price cap on Russian oil, EU is also considering the same, especially after latest threats by President Vladimir Putin. Germany, however, has warned EU to be “very careful” about imposing a price cap and has called for diversifying the supply structure. Asked about the G7 cap, Ackermann said it was still being deliberated.
“We will see how that works. It’s a tool maybe but I don’t see it coming overnight. It’s complicated,” he said.
Talking about Germany’s own position on the conflict and its relations with Russia, the ambassador said there had been a “sea change” with Germany providing money and weapons to Ukraine despite its long-held policy of not supplying weaponry to a conflict zone. On Ukraine’s demand for tanks though, he said there will be no “single, unilateral” delivery and that Germany will coordinate its actions with others including the US and France.
“We ‘were too dependent on Russian gas. In hindsight, that was a mistake. We were under the illusion that the Russians, no matter what, would sell energy as it’s the main source of income for them. Even during the worst days of the Cold War, they continued to sell energy. We thought it was a very solid, reliable source. This was wrong. Putin now using it as a tool for political gains. We always thought that Russia had to be involved in any European peace plan. We tried hard but it failed. Russia has annexed Ukraine’s territory, and we have to reassess our attitude towards Russia. There is no doubt that at some stage there must be dialogue. But it’s very difficult in the current circumstances,” said the ambassador.