EU member states decide to ban diamond imports from Russia
EU member states have adopted a new package of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine. This includes a ban on imports of Russian diamonds, the EU Council announced in Brussels on Monday. An import ban had been in the works for months but had not been agreed, partly due to opposition from Belgium, home to the world's biggest diamond trading hub of Antwerp.
From 1 January, the ban will initially apply to diamonds and diamond jewellery imported directly from Russia, and later to Russian diamonds processed in third countries.
The EU had not yet imposed a ban on imports of diamonds from Russia. For a long time, the main reason for this was Belgium's resistance: Antwerp has been one of the world's most important diamond centres since the 16th century. Russia, for its part, is considered the world's largest producer of rough diamonds. Last week, it emerged that the diamond trade in Belgium had been declining for months, partly due to the expected boycott.
In addition to the economic sanctions, more than 100 individuals and organisations supporting Russia's war against Ukraine are to be sanctioned.
The latest package of sanctions came into force in June. It included an instrument to prevent the circumvention of sanctions already imposed. A wide-ranging ban on imports of crude oil, coal, steel, gold and luxury goods, as well as punitive measures against banks and financial institutions, have been in place for some time.
European leaders will make a fresh attempt to reach an agreement with Hungary's Viktor Orbán on new financial aid for Ukraine on 1 February. This was announced by EU Council president Charles Michel on Monday after a meeting with Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo.
At last week's European summit, Orbán was the only one to oppose a Commission proposal to give Ukraine up to 17 billion euros in grants and 33 billion in loans over the next four years.
EU Council president Charles Michel © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS