epa09930214 A shop window at the Diamonds district in Antwerp, Belgium, 06 May 2022. Diamond traders in Antwerp fear the European Union could announce restrictions on Russian diamonds in the sixth package of sanctions. Russia produces a third of the World's Diamonds and 80 percent of the world's diamond transit by Antwerp hub for the trade but also cutting and polishing diamonds. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET


EU and G7 set to clamp down on Russian diamonds


Charles Michel, President of the European Council, has announced that the European Union will limit trade in Russian diamonds, part of a broader western clampdown.

The UK has gone further with a ban on imports of diamonds, copper, aluminium and nickel. The US is also set announce tightened sanctions.

Russia generates approximately $4 billion (€3.7 billion) in income by exporting uncut diamonds every year. Alrosa, the leading Russian diamond mining company, is reported to have strong connections with the Kremlin. Its chief executive, Sergei Ivanov, is the son of a trusted Putin associate.

Sanctions on Russian diamonds have been a thorny issue because they could easily be circumvented, meaning they would hurt western companies more than Russian industry.

They were therefore resisted by Belgium, which was seeking to protect the Antwerp-based diamond trade.

To get around this problem, Michel said the EU will propose a mechanism to track and trace the diamond trade and thereby eliminate loopholes. This plan is due to be discussed by the G-7 on May 19.  Swiss company Spacecode, which offers a technological solution to identify the origin of individual diamonds, is said to be part of the solution.

According to an EU source, India will play a crucial role in the plan’s success. India boasts the largest diamond-polishing industry globally with close to a 90% market share. The G-7 meeting is expected to include Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as leaders from Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Relationships between India and Europe have been strained. India has not joined join the West in its sanctions against Russia.

During the press conference before the G7 meeting in Hiroshima, Michel said the EU will keep working to provide Ukraine everything it needs. “More weapons.  More ammunition.  And faster. This will be crucial to its counter-offensive.” At the symbolic location, Michel said that Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is “unacceptable and irresponsible.”

The UK , meanwhile, announced that 86 individuals and entities will be sanctioned. The measures target Russia’s alleged theft of Ukrainian grain and advanced military technology.

The US is looking to blocklist at least 70 companies and organisations for selling restricted products. “These will go after financial facilitators, as well as future energy and extractive capabilities of Russia and other actors helping to support the war. This will include designations across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” a US official added.