EU proposes ban on Russian diamond imports in new sanctions

The EU’s executive has proposed banning the import of Russian diamonds and liquefied petroleum gases in a new round of sanctions over the war in Ukraine, according to a document seen by AFP Wednesday.

The package of sanctions — which needs to be approved unanimously by European Union countries — also includes measures aimed at preventing Moscow from circumventing an oil price cap.

The 27-nation bloc has already imposed 11 rounds of sanctions on Russia since its all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, including hitting its key oil and gas exports.

Russia’s economy has been dented but not devastated by the sanctions, and the Kremlin is still managing to massively increase its military spending.

The latest measures are designed to further cut off income to Russia’s war chest by targeting its lucrative diamond exports, worth some $4 billion (3.7 billion euro) a year before the war.

The EU ban would apply to natural and synthetic diamonds, and jewellery, from the start of 2024 and to Russian diamonds processed in third countries from next September.

The diamond prohibition is part of broader G7 scheme to put in place a system for tracing the Russian precious stones.

EU member Belgium — home to world’s largest diamond trading market — had long been blocking a ban on the gems until the G7 plan had been set up, fearing the activity would just go elsewhere.

– Expanding blacklist –
Among other measures the new sanctions envision banning the import of liquefied petroleum gases propane and butane from Russia.

The fuel gases are typically used in heating appliances and cooking equipment.

The European Commission also wants to try to make it more difficult for the Kremlin to skirt a G7 oil price cap by better tracking clandestine transfers at sea and making it more difficult for tankers to carry Russian crude.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed in a statement that the proposal was submitted to EU member states on Tuesday evening.

He said Brussels was pushing to add 120 individuals and entities to a visa ban and asset freeze blacklist.

“The proposals for listings include actors from the Russian military, defence and IT sectors, as well as other important economic operators,” Borrell said.

In addition there are officials involved in the forced “re-education” of Ukrainian children, those responsible for holding “so-called elections” in areas seized by Moscow, and propagandists, he said.

Diplomats say that ambassadors from the EU member states will hold a first round of discussions on the sanctions on Friday. (AFP)

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