European sanctions against Russia for its military aggression against Ukraine already affect, after 10 packages of punitive measures, almost all important Russian exports.
Among other decisions, European companies and governments stopped importing Russian hydrocarbons despite their dependence.
But until now, Europe
has not dared to hinder the millionaire diamond trade.
The sanctions, which also include measures such as the confiscation of more than 300,000 million dollars of assets of the Russian Central Bank deposited in bank accounts abroad, seek to weaken the Russian economy as much as possible to prevent it from financing the war and at the same time damage the least the European economy possible.
That last argument is the one repeatedly used by the Belgian government to prevent the diamond trade from being included in sanctions packages.
In the tenth, approved last Friday and which coincided with the first anniversary of the military aggression, diamonds did not enter either.
The precious stones are
the third most profitable export product for Russia
after oil and gas and therefore fall into the category of products that help it finance the war, but the European Commission never proposed their inclusion in the sanctions.
The Belgian city of Antwerp is the world's leading diamond market.
The Belgian government argues that it would not make any economic sense and that
it would harm Belgium but not Russia
He explains that Moscow would seek other destinations for its rough diamonds, of which it is the leading exporter on the planet, and that what it sold in the Antwerp market could be sold in other places, such as Tel Aviv, Mumbai, Dubai or New York.
The Russian company Alrosa is, along with the South African De Beers, the world's largest producer of rough diamonds.
The Russian state has two-thirds ownership of Alrosa.
The Belgian government also argues that Russia would not lose anything as it would look for other buyers, but
Antwerp would no longer have the prominent place as the world's leading diamond market
and, according to reports from the diamond sector in the Flemish city, 30% of its turnover and 10,000 direct jobs.
The diamond sector in Belgium represents 38,000 million euros and 1,600 companies.
A bank in Moscow.
Sanctions against the economy do not reach Russian diamonds.
peace and diamonds
In March 2022, in a video connection with the Belgian Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Peace is more important than Russian diamonds sold in Antwerp.
Finishing the speech the parliamentarians applauded.
The part about the diamonds did not seem to have heard it except for the neo-Nazis of the Vlaams Belang, who are affected by anti-Semitism.
Other European countries (Poland, the Baltics) ask that diamonds be included in the sanctions but the Belgian government argues that it should be done at the international level, at least at the G7 or G20 level.
Thus, other large diamond markets would also apply the sanctions and Antwerp would not be the only one affected.
The G7 meeting on February 24, meant to mark the first anniversary of the military aggression, included the diamonds in its statement: "Given the significant income that Russia derives from the export of diamonds" "future measures that include diamonds" will be considered. rough and polished.
Nothing concrete and no date.
The sector, represented by the "Antwerp World Diamond Center" alleges that diamonds are not oil, that hundreds of millions of euros in diamonds can move in a suitcase and that including them in the sanctions would only serve to trigger the black market.
Belgium denounces that in Mumbai Russian rough diamonds are imported, polished and re-exported with the “Made in India” label.
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