West eyes branding Russia exporter of ‘blood diamonds’ – NYT — Analysis
Moscow has previously criticized efforts to politicize its diamond trade, branding it “political demagogy”
The US, Canada, and the EU are pushing for Russia to be labeled as an exporter conflict diamonds. They argue that Russia’s gemstone trade allows it to carry out its military operations in Ukraine.
The paper says US State Department representative George Cajati called for the measure in a letter sent to the Kimberley Process – a UN-backed organization that aims to prevent “conflict” or so-called “blood diamonds” from entering the world market due to them being unethically sourced or used to finance regional conflicts.
In the letter, which was sent to the organization back in May, Cajati insisted that the profits from Russia’s diamond trade were “benefiting the same state that is conducting a premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war.” His position was backed by the EU, Canada, a number of other Western nations, and Ukraine.
Russia is the largest source of small-sized diamonds in the world. The US, however, has been a major market for these gems for many years. They are used frequently for earrings, pendants and engagement rings.
According to the NYT, which cites US Government data, in 2021, Russia’s diamond exports accounted for over $4.5 billion, making it Moscow’s largest non-energy export by value.
Some Western countries have already placed restrictions on the purchase of diamonds directly from Russia. But this only covers uncut diamonds. This technicality allows gems from Russia to India for refinement to still be able to reach the US market after they are labeled Indian.
The Kimberley Process attempted to raise Russian diamonds in June, but was unable to do so due to the veto of Russia, China, and Belarus. They were supported by Kyrgyzstan and Mali, and the Central African Republic.
Russia’s Finance Ministry has condemned attempts by the West to label Russia as an exporter of “blood diamonds” as “absolutely baseless” and nothing short of “political demagogy” according to a statement sent to the Kimberley Process in June and seen by Reuters.
“The Russian Federation categorically condemns the orchestrated attempts by the Civil Society Coalition, with the support of an absolute minority of some Western participants, to politicize the work of the Kimberley Process by deliberately distorting or even openly substituting its basic principles,” the ministry wrote.
Moscow insists that it diamonds comply with the Kimberley Process’ environmental, social, and governance standards. It also noted that Russian diamonds help to support almost one million Yakutia residents who depend heavily on stability in the diamond mining sector.
Although the November meeting of Kimberley Process will be the next, some worry that it could become yet another political battleground. Hans Merket, a diamond industry and human rights researcher and member of the Kimberley Process, told the NYT that the group had become “an organ of bureaucrats” and raised concerns that political squabbles were sidetracking important work as “problematic” diamonds were being endorsed to falsely reassure jewelry buyers, while serious problems were being ignored.
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