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NEW DELHI: Russia urged India to deepen its investments in the sanction-hit country's oil and gas sector, and is keen on expanding the sales networks of Russian companies in Asia's third-largest economy.

Russia's economy faces its deepest crisis since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, as the West imposes severe sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Some western allies have encouraged India to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, after New Delhi abstained from voting against Moscow, a long-standing arms supplier, at the United Nations.

India’s Russian coal imports could be highest in over two years in March

"Russia's oil and petroleum product exports to India have approached $1 billion, and there are clear opportunities to increase this figure," said Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, according to a statement shared by Russia's embassy in India late on Friday.

"We are interested in further attracting Indian investment to the Russian oil and gas sector and expanding Russian companies' sales networks in India," Novak told Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri.

The United States this week banned Russian oil imports and Britain said it will phase them out by year end, decisions expected to further disrupt the global energy market, where Russia is the second-largest exporter of crude.

Ukraine crisis stretches Indian 'neutrality' to the limit

Indian state-run companies hold stakes in Russian oil and gas fields, while Russian entities including Rosneft own a majority stake in Indian refiner Nayara Energy. Some Indian companies also buy Russian oil.

Russia expects both countries to continue cooperation on civilian nuclear power, including building new units at a nuclear power plant in the south Indian town of Kudankulam, Novak said.

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