Monday, June 5, 2023

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Sri Lanka explores the possibility of buying Russian oil & fertilizers

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): The Sri Lankan government is seeking Russian cooperation in multiple sectors, namely, tourism, air traffic, and locomotive construction, besides eyeing crude from Moscow.

Colombo is negotiating a deal to buy discounted crude from Moscow, Sri Lankan Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media Bandula Gunawardana told Sputnik on Sunday.

“Sri Lanka today does not buy Russian oil and gas, but this issue is on the agenda of the Ministry of Power and Energy of our country, and in case of successful completion of discussions on this topic, a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached. Our authorities will discuss this issue with Russia,” the minister said.

Gunawardana added that Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Janitha Liyanage was still in talks with President Vladimir Putin’s government for a previously requested loan for purchasing fuel from Moscow.

The minister also assured Russia that its ships and personnel will not be arrested due to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following the launch of its special military operation in Ukraine last February.

The minister revealed that Sri Lanka has already lifted the ban on chemical fertilizers and would like to buy them from Russia.

But he elaborated that the South Asian country would make payments in local currency because it doesn’t have dollars to pay for Russian fertilizer purchases.

President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, reversed this decision [to ban chemical fertilizers]. And fertilizers’ prices are now more affordable to the farmers, and it’s possible to consider [buying] fertilizers from Russia. It is way more economical,” he said.

Sri Lanka is pursuing the option of purchasing crude oil from Russia at discounted rates and has had several rounds of talks with Moscow in that regard, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said.

“We have been disproportionately affected by the Russian conflict, so we pray and urge everybody to quickly and diplomatically and by dialogue resolve this. We have been affected big time in terms of petroleum, crude oil and coal prices, as well as grain prices and escalating prices of fertilizer,” said Sabry.

“These are lifelines for our people. There are 33 percent of Sri Lankans involved in agriculture,” he added.

The minister reiterated that the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disportionately impacted Sri Lanka on top of its ongoing currency crisis, the worst in decades.

“On top of that, Russia and Ukraine both had been among our top 10 countries in tourism arrivals to Sri Lanka,” he said, noting that the two countries are two important export destinations for Sri Lanka as well.

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