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UK announces new Russia sanctions, including diamond ban

Russia's diamond trade is estimated to be worth $4b-5b a year

By AFP - May 21,2023 - Last updated at May 21,2023

In this photo taken on May 31, 2022, a diamond is kept under the microscope during examination at a factory in Surat, India (AFP photo)

HIROSHIMA — Britain unveiled new sanctions against Russia's minerals sector Friday, targeting imports of aluminium, diamonds, copper and nickel in a bid to choke Moscow's ability to fund the war in Ukraine.

Ahead of a G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, London said it would introduce "a ban on Russian diamonds" and target more entities involved in "[Vladimir] Putin's military industrial complex".

Russia's diamond trade is estimated to be worth $4-5 billion a year, netting the Kremlin much-needed tax revenues.

The summit in Hiroshima is expected to bring a series of new sanctions on Russia, including US measures that will put 70 more Russian and foreign entities on a trade blacklist.

"There will be upwards of 300 new sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft," a senior US administration official said.

The G-7 as a whole is expected to work to tighten existing sanctions, close loopholes, squeeze Moscow's access to the international financial system and commit to keeping Russian assets frozen until the end of the war in Ukraine. 

On Thursday, a European Union official said one potential target for discussion was Russia's multibillion-dollar diamond industry.

"We believe we need to limit exports from Russian trade in this sector," the official said.

EU member Belgium is among the largest wholesale buyers of Russian diamonds, along with India and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States is a major end-market for the finished product.

"As today's sanctions announcements demonstrate, the G-7 remains unified in the face of the threat from Russia and steadfast in our support for Ukraine," said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

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