Ukraine crisis: President Zelensky attacks Russian diamond imports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked Belgian lawmakers for more help and on Thursday took aim at the continued import of Russian diamonds to the Belgian port of Antwerp while repeating calls for a no-fly zone over his country.

Zelenskyy’s video speech in parliament drew a long round of warm applause, but Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo reiterated the Western position that NATO is not a party to the war.

And it shouldn’t become one, he added.

You have been advocating for a no-fly zone imposed by NATO since the beginning of this war. Let’s face it, that would mean shooting down Russian planes and an escalation that could engulf the entire European continent. More lives lost and a wider war with no solution.

De Croo, however, assured Zelenskyy of Belgium’s resolute and lasting support. He announced new orders for arms to be delivered to the war-torn country.

Zelenskyy thanked Belgium, a country of 11.5 million people, for its help and for having already taken in 30,000 Ukrainian refugees who managed to escape the conflict.

But recalling the ordeal of residents of the besieged city of Mariupol, Zelenskyy also pointed to the continued import of Russian rough diamonds to Antwerp, which is the world’s largest diamond trading hub.

There are people for whom the Russian diamonds sometimes sold in Antwerp are more important,” he said through a French-speaking translator.

People for whom to accept Russian ships in their ports, and for whom the income from these ships is more important than our struggles.”

I believe that peace is much more valuable than diamonds, than agreements with Russia, than Russian (allowed) ships in ports, than Russian oil and gas, Zelenskyy added.

Help us. Do it, with weapons, sanctions and the possibility of becoming a member of the European Union.

According to the World Diamond Center Antwerp, the official representative of the city’s diamond industry, 86% of all rough diamonds mined worldwide are traded in Antwerp, making it the important for Russian diamonds.

Russia’s diamond imports to the EU have not been targeted by the bloc’s sanctions so far.

De Croo said last week that Belgium was not opposed to sanctions that would impact the diamond sector, but said the EU should be careful not to take measures that would be more detrimental to the bloc. 27 nations than to Russia.

If, as the European Union, we do this and all the traffic moves to Dubai, and it doesn’t impact Russia, then… I mean. we are not waging war on ourselves,” he said.

“The goal is for the impact to be on the Russian side. So I’m not against it, but it should be done with good international agreements, otherwise we might not have any impact.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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