India should avoid "attempt to circumvent or backfill" ongoing sanctions on Russia, US Deputy NSA Daleep Singh says, adding Moscow won't come to New Delhi's rescue in the event of border confrontation with rival China.

"[There is a] shared recognition in the Quad that China is a strategic threat to a free open and secure Indo-Pacific," says Daleep Singh, US Deputy NSA for International Economics. (AP)

The US has warned its South Asian partner India against circumventing sanctions the Western countries have imposed on Russia over its assault on Ukraine, saying such countries will face "consequences" and insisting Moscow won't come to New Delhi's assistance if China breaches its contentious border with India again.

"I come here in a spirit of friendship to explain the mechanisms of our sanctions, the importance of joining us, to express a shared resolve and to advance shared interests. And yes, there are consequences to countries that actively attempt to circumvent or backfill the sanctions," said Daleep Singh, the US Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics, on Thursday.

Singh is considered to be the architect of ongoing US sanctions on Russia. 

"We are very keen for all countries, especially our allies and partners, not to create mechanisms that prop up the [Russian] rouble, and those that attempt to undermine the dollar-based financial system," Singh who is on a visit to New Delhi told journalists between his official meetings.

New Delhi is also hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who is scheduled to meet India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday.

READ MORE: India in talks to buy cheap Russian oil as West shuns Moscow

Cheap oil trade

Lured by steep discounts following Western sanctions on Russian entities, India has bought at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude oil since the country began its assault on Ukraine in late February. That compared with some 16 million barrels for the whole of last year, data compiled by Reuters news agency shows.

"Friends don't set red lines," Singh said adding however that its partners in Europe and Asia had been urged to cut their reliance on "an unreliable energy supplier".

Russia has long been India's biggest supplier of defence equipment, despite growing purchases from the United States in the past decade. Defence analysts say Russian supplies are more cost-competitive and vital for India as it faces a superior Chinese military.

Singh said the United States was ready to help India diversify its energy and defence supplies. India is the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer.

Russian and Indian central bank officials met in New Delhi this week to find a payment mechanism and routing through banks that will be free of international sanctions.

Both nations have been looking to establish a rupee-rouble trade system and discussions between Indian and Russian financial officials are ongoing, Reuters reported.

The IMF's top official has warned of a decrease in the US currency's dominance in global markets after imposing sanctions on Russia.

Russia is offering a discount of $35 a barrel to price levels prior to the start of the Ukraine offensive, according to a Bloomberg report.

India also struck a deal with Moscow to buy sophisticated S-400 missile defence systems, a military equipment that is sanctioned by American CAATSA.

The US imposed sanctions on Türkiye over its purchase of the same missile defence systems but the Washington is looking to provide a wavier to New Delhi over its procurement to counter China.

READ MORE: Biden hails allies in rift with Russia but finds India's response 'shaky'

US calls Russia a junior partner of China

India and China count Russia as a friendly nation and neither has condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine. While India has abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the war, China has in some cases sided with Moscow.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after a meeting with Lavrov on Wednesday that Moscow and Beijing were "more determined" to develop bilateral ties and boost cooperation.

Singh said the growing Beijing-Moscow bonhomie meant that Russia could not be expected to come to India's rescue in case of any future border escalations between India and China.

"Russia is going to be the junior partner in this relationship with China," he said. 

"And the more leverage that China gains over Russia, the less favourable that is for India."

"I don't think anyone would believe that if China once again breached the Line of Actual Control, Russia will come running to India's defence," he said.

READ MORE: Is India taking advantage of sanctions imposed on Russian oil?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies