Lawmakers in the US got together to target the Russia-India diamond trade to wade a loophole in the sanctions that they have imposed. The sanctions allow import of cut and polished stones into the US from anywhere except Russia while the sanctions do not ban cut and polished stones from other states. India is known to cut and polish 95% of all rough diamonds in the world. The US lawmakers in their letter addressed to Tony Blinken, Secretary of State and Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary, sounded a bell of alarm that the sanctions imposed upon Russia’s diamond industry would have negligible impact over Russia’s ability to fund the war through an economic clampdown, especially Alrosa the world's largest diamond mining company and its CEO Sergei Ivanov. The company, had USD 4.2 billion worth sales in 2021 which incorporates 90 per cent of Russia's diamond mining capacity and 28 percent globally. India directly imports only around 10% of Alrosa's total rough diamond output.
The group of lawmakers requested the Treasury Department that had devised the sanctions to make amends and reconsider the interpretation of origin of diamonds as different from importation of diamonds that may cut or polish diamonds from Alrosa. Second, “the United States should work with its Indian counterparts, as well as those in trading centers such as Dubai, to ensure they are not being used to line the pockets of those closest to Vladimir Putin. Luxury goods, especially items like diamonds that are used mainly for export to wealthy nations, should be among the first that Treasury and State Departments consider future action. We ask for your consideration of additional actions that would constrain the Kremlin's capacity to access revenue from their diamond industry which could fund the invasion of democratic and sovereign Ukraine," they said. Finally, the State and the Treasury Departments should provide guidance to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to aid the prohibition of importation of Russian diamonds into the United States. The letter ended with the lawmakers stating that Putin's callous attack on sovereign Ukraine be met with a forceful response from the United States and its partners.