President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Wednesday that Sri Lanka has asked Russia to provide fuel and resume tourist flights to help the country tide over the unprecedented economic crisis.
The island nation has suffered months of blackouts, rampant inflation and severe shortages of food and petrol after running out of foreign currency to finance imports.
Rajapaksa said he had spoken to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to request urgently needed fuel supplies on loan and to “politely” request the resumption of flights between Moscow and Colombo.
Sri Lanka got Russian oil to overcome the shortage
“We unanimously agreed that strengthening bilateral ties in areas such as tourism, trade and culture is paramount to strengthen the friendship between our two countries.”
Aeroflot suspended flights last month after a Sri Lankan court briefly detained an Airbus belonging to the state-owned airline’s fleet over a payment dispute.
Both the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russian oil in response to the country’s February invasion of Ukraine.
Sri Lanka bought around 90,000 tonnes of Siberian crude in May through an intermediary in Dubai, but ran out of dollars to buy more.
Russia and Ukraine were among the top sources of tourists to Sri Lanka before the conflict broke out in February.
Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic recession since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.
The government defaulted on $51 billion of its foreign debt in April and is in bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.
European countries, Australia and the United States have asked their citizens to avoid traveling to Sri Lanka due to the deepening crisis.
With the country almost completely short of petrol and diesel, non-essential government offices and schools have been ordered to close in an effort to conserve the limited supply of fuel.