Russia Produces a Third of the World’s Diamonds. Now They’re Coming Under Scrutiny – by Lisa Abend (Time Magazine – May 3, 2022)

No one would ever call the atmosphere on Antwerp’s Hoveniersstraat relaxed. Each day, millions of euros worth of diamonds pass through the export offices and exchanges that line its 300 barricaded meters, and the traders who move along its length, clutching innocuous-looking plastic bags laden with gems, tend to eye outsiders with suspicion.

But ever since the war in Ukraine began, Hoveniersstraat has been even more tense than usual. As the world’s oldest and largest hub for the trade, it—and Antwerp as a whole—has held its breath each time the European Union has announced a new set of sanctions against Russia. And now, with a sixth round imminent, traders in Belgium’s second largest city are again worried that their luck may soon run out.

Russia produces about 30% of the world’s supply of diamonds. And one company, Alrosa, is responsible for mining roughly 90% of those. Partially owned by the Russian government, Alrosa has ties to Russia’s military and nuclear industries, and is run by the son of a close Putin ally.

Because of those connections, the U.S. and more recently the U.K., have put sanctions on Alrosa’s chief executive, Sergey S. Ivanov, and banned imports of the country’s diamonds as part of their efforts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. But the European Union, headquartered in a country that is home to the oldest and largest diamond trading hub in the world, thus far has not.

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