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Ukraine Accused Russia Of Pressuring Belarus To Take The Helm Of A Conflict Diamond Group

Ukraine has accused Russia of attempting to elevate its partner Belarus to the top of an international diamond certification group in order to keep Moscow's jewels from being labelled war diamonds following its invasion.

Some members of the Kimberley Process, a consortium of governments, business, and civil society that certifies diamonds, have advocated for conflict diamonds to be branded on diamonds from Russia, the world's largest producer by volume. According to a September 19 letter seen by Reuters, Belarus has requested to be the KP's vice chair in 2023 and chair in 2024. Because the KP takes decisions by agreement, the schism over Russia threatens to paralyse it.

"Russia is pressuring Belarus to take the chair so that Russia's interests can be better pursued and safeguarded within the KP," Ukraine's Kimberley Process delegate Vladimir Tatarintsev said in an email on Tuesday. Belarus did not reply to requests for comment through email. Russia has condemned efforts to "politicise" the KP. The KP has the authority to impose a restriction on diamond exports from certain nations, as it did in 2013 after rebels took control in Central African Republic.

Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus

Belarus stated in its proposal that it was willing to defend the KP's "unity and authority." Belarus, which has never previously chaired the KP, backed Russia in opposing a request to examine the invasion of Ukraine at a KP meeting in June. The current KP chair, Jacob Thamage of Botswana, to whom the bid was sent, did not reply to a request for comment.

In an August 2 letter obtained by Reuters, the UAE, the world's biggest rough diamond trade centre, also applied for the 2024 presidency. The UAE has not imposed sanctions on Russia in order to maintain what it deems a neutral stance on the Ukrainian conflict. Tatarintsev stated that Ukraine had no objections to the UAE's candidacy, but noted that "uniting the Kimberley Process is doubtful."

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