From Russia With No Diamonds: U.K.’s New Sanctions During G7 Summit in Japan

LONDON British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is using the G7 summit in Japan to double down on his support for Ukraine.

He has unveiled a new sanction for the U.K. — banning Russian diamonds and metals, as well as Russian-origin copper, aluminum and nickel.

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“We all believe in a world where people play by the rules. We believe in democracy, freedom [and] the rule of law. It’s right that we stand up for those things,” Sunak said in an interview with the BBC.

“We’ve taken the lead on announcing new sanctions on Russia. I’m hopeful and confident that our partner countries will follow as they have done when we’ve done this previously, that will make the sanctions more effective.

“Ensure that Russia pays a price for its illegal activity. This is something we can be proud of in the U.K. because we’ve taken a leadership role when it comes to supporting Ukraine,” he added.

In 2021, the Russian diamond industry was worth 3.2 billion pounds in exports.

Sunak’s government will be planning to investigate 86 more people and companies connected to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A view of Nyurbinsky diamond mining pit of Nakyn diamond ore field, some 340 kms North-East from the town of Mirny on July 2, 2019. - The Nyurbinsky diamond mining pit has now depth of 375 meters, with a project depth of 570 meters, having 4,6 carats of diamonds per one tonne of kimberlite ore in this pipe. Russian Alrosa gets its diamonds in the permafrost abyssal holes dug with explosives in the permanently frozen ground of Yakutia, an isolated region in East Siberia, the home to the huge diamond deposits that ensure Russia's supremacy in world production. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Ninety-nine percent of all Russian diamonds are produced from Yakutia.

Alrosa, a Russian state-owned company, has already been sanctioned. In 2021, it mined close to a third of the world’s diamonds.

It was announced earlier this week that the company’s chief executive officer Sergey Ivanov Jr. is stepping down early; his contract doesn’t expire until 2025. Rumors of his exit started circulating in December 2022.

He is being succeeded by Pavel Marinychev, a former government official in Yakutia, and CEO of Alrosa’s subsidiary JSC Almazy Anabara. His contract is suspected to be up for renewal in 2026.

The U.K. has frozen more than 18 billion pounds in Russian assets since the start of the attacks on Ukraine, as well as targeted 1,500 individuals and entities.

“In order to reduce the revenues that Russia extracts from the export of diamonds, we will continue to work closely together to restrict trade in and use of diamonds mined, processed or produced in Russia and engage with key partners with the aim of ensuring effective implementation of future coordinated restrictive measures, including through tracing technologies,” said U.S. President Joe Biden in a statement on Ukraine on The White House’s website.

Last year the U.K. joined the U.S., Canada and Japan in banning imports of Russian gold — an industry that was worth 12.6 billion pounds to Russia in 2021.

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