By Alexandra Brzozowski
(EurActiv) — The EU on Wednesday (3 January) added Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s biggest diamond producer, as well as its CEO Pavel Alekseevich Marinychev to its sanctions list as part of its ban of import bans over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
“In line with the diamond ban we have introduced with the 12th package of sanctions, the EU today lists Alrosa, the largest diamond-mining company in the world, and its CEO,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on X.
Alrosa and its chief executive will be subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the EU.
The EU said the company – which accounts for 90% of Russia’s diamond production – “constitutes an important part of an economic sector that is providing substantial revenue to the government”.
Russia’s diamond exports totalled around $4 billion in 2022.
The EU in December agreed to prohibit natural and synthetic diamonds exported from Russia, in a coordinated step with the G7, a ban that went into force on 1 January as the bloc aims to tighten sanctions to further restrict revenue flowing into the Kremlin’s war chest.
A prohibition on Russian diamonds processed in third countries will be phased in by September.
The ban was hard fought for, with member states having been locked in months of painstaking negotiations with G7 countries to set up a system to trace Russian diamonds.
A diamond’s origin is determined at the start of the supply chain when it is issued a certificate under the Kimberley Process, which was designed to end the sale of so-called blood diamonds that financed wars.
However, after that, the precious stones can become difficult to track.
Ahead of the decision, the diamond industry has been aggressively lobbying G7 decision-makers about how the ban should be implemented, with major market players arguing it was unworkable and would damage the global diamond trade.
Belgium, which is home to the world’s biggest diamond trading hub, insisted the system needed to be put in place to make any embargo effective.
The country’s port city of Antwerp, a once-dominant global trading hub, in recent years has been steadily losing influence to rival hubs in India and the United Arab Emirates.