Sri Lanka’s education minister Susil Premajayantha will arrive in Russia today to negotiate a fuel deal for the beleaguered island
Sri Lanka’s education minister Susil Premajayantha will arrive in Russia today to negotiate a fuel deal for the beleaguered island nation.
Amid ongoing political unrest, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has struggled to prevent a growing fuel crisis caused by high oil prices and a COVID-19-induced collapse of its lucrative tourist industry. The resulting economic slump is now exacerbated by high inflation and an imminent food shortage.
Colombo’s predicament is a major opportunity for a Russian government needing to find new customers fast in light of a looming Europe-wide partial oil ban in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has already discounted oil prices to attract customers in Asia and Africa. Wickremesinghe is on record seeking oil from traditional suppliers in the Middle East as first preference. However, Colombo has already purchased 90,000 tons of Russian oil and the fuel crisis in the country makes it almost certain that Sri Lanka will buy significantly more Russian oil in the coming months.
Sri Lanka’s economic woes illustrate the clear divergence between Western interests in punishing Russia for the Ukraine invasion, and the economic needs of developing countries, potentially allowing Moscow to ride out Western sanctions for the foreseeable future.
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