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New EU Sanctions Spare Russian Diamonds – Report

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Joshua Freedman • 01-10-2022

The European Union is proposing a fresh package of restrictions on Russian goods but is leaving diamonds untouched, according to the Politico news website.

The new sanctions ban imports of several steel products and outlaw the export of certain semiconductors to Russia, the outlet said Wednesday, citing a draft European Commission document that was not yet public. Russian rough is not on the list, but the commission — the EU’s executive unit — wants to stop the import of “certain elements used in the jewelry industry, such as stones and precious metals.”

It was not clear what those elements were. A spokesperson for the commission declined to comment on the specifics, noting that the process to impose new sanctions was confidential and “is fully in the hands of the member states, which have to agree in the [EU] Council through unanimity.”

The commission presented the proposals to EU ambassadors Wednesday, Politico noted.

“At the moment, diamonds are not included on the agenda for the next round of sanctions,” confirmed Tom Neys, head of media relations at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). “But things change quickly. [On] Friday they will finalize discussions, and the EU [leaders decide] on October 6 and 7.

“The fact that sanctions also create other ethical problems, and that these sanctions will have no effect in Russia, are probably important elements in these debates. Now is the time to focus on international solutions.”

The development follows reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to call up 300,000 reservists and annex parts of Ukraine. Poland, Ireland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia proposed a retaliatory ban on EU imports of Russian diamonds, according to a separate report by Reuters on Sunday.

Antwerp is Russia’s most important market for diamond sales. In 2021, around 36% of revenue for Alrosa, the largest Russian miner, came from Belgium, according to the company’s most recent annual results.

Image: Rough diamonds. (Alrosa).

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