Belgium’s diamonds lose shine amid Russia sanctions talk – by Ilys Gridneff (Politico – September 22, 2022)

Belgium is concerned about harming the world-leading Antwerp diamond district. But some countries are losing patience.

ANTWERP, Belgium — Russian diamonds are on Europe’s radar once again — as is Belgium’s fraught role in the industry. Despite six rounds of sweeping European Union sanctions against Moscow, Russian diamonds have remained a shining absence from the embargo list.

Their omission is due in part to Belgium’s prominent role in the diamond industry. Antwerp has, for generations, served as the main hub for diamonds arriving in Europe — including from Russia.

But that may change. Russia’s pledge to ramp up its military campaign in Ukraine has prompted the EU to accelerate work on a new sanctions package. And several diplomats said Belgium’s hesitance about a Russian diamond ban is increasingly untenable.

Publicly, Belgium has pledged not to block diamond sanctions. It has also expressed concerns that such a move may harm EU economies more than Russia’s purse. Privately, Belgian diplomats have successfully lobbied EU officials to keep the precious stones off the sanctions list, according to numerous diplomats familiar with the sanctions discussions.

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