Western nations are on the cusp of implementing a ban on Russian diamonds in countries already imposing sanctions on Kremlin assets, according to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo. This move, which aims to curtail a significant revenue source for Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine conflict, is the culmination of a year-long effort by the European Union and G7 countries to establish a reliable system for tracking Russian diamonds.
Speaking alongside Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a surprise visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, De Croo disclosed that the goal is to enforce the ban on “blood diamonds” starting on January 1, 2024. The support of Belgium is pivotal, as an estimated 90 percent of the world’s diamonds pass through the port city of Antwerp. Despite industry pressure advising against a ban, warning that sanctions could divert valuable trade from Antwerp to Dubai, De Croo emphasized the need to sever Russian dominance from retail markets.
Belgian PM De Croo explained, “The best way to do that is with the full traceability system to exclude Russian diamonds from all the markets. We are doing [this] together with the EU and the G7, and we are very close to finalizing such a full traceability system.”
Efforts to disrupt the diamond supply chain have been complex, as Russia has managed to circumvent existing sanctions. While the EU sanctions have expanded to include Russian coal, gold, and caviar, diamond imports have continued. However, global leaders have been working collaboratively to establish a comprehensive prohibition on the sale of Russian diamonds, ensuring they don’t enter the market through alternative routes.
Recently, experts from the G7 and Belgium discussed the potential embargo on importing Russian-mined diamonds during the G7 summit in India. Approximately one-third of the world’s diamond supply, valued at around €4.5 billion (£3.8 billion), originates from Siberian quarries. Prior to the Ukraine invasion, Russia accounted for 25 percent of the rough diamonds passing through Antwerp.