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Britain announces new sanctions on Russia, including diamond ban

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty are welcomed by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife Yuko Kishida at the Peace Memorial Park during a visit as part of the G7 Hiroshima Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 19, 2023. (Reuters photo)

The UK has announced a series of fresh sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, targeting Moscow’s mineral sector.

The coercive measures, unveiled on Friday, include a ban on imports of aluminum, diamonds copper and nickel from Russia.

Britain said it would introduce "a ban on Russian diamonds" and target more entities involved in "(Vladimir) Putin's military-industrial complex," according to AFP.

London has also sanctioned 86 individuals and companies working for Russia’s military, energy, metals and shipping industries.

The announcement comes ahead of a Friday summit of the group of seven developed countries, or G7, in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, a city destroyed by a US atomic attack in 1945.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak flew into Hiroshima for the three-day gathering of world leaders with a self-declared mission to push India into showing greater support for Ukraine.

“One thing we have to keep doing is talking to countries like India and also Brazil. That is going to be in that second part of the summit which is a good thing,” Sunak said.

“One of my three things is talking to countries around the world and making sure they realize what is going on, the war crimes Russia is committing inside Ukraine and why everyone should support bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” he said.

“That’s what [Ukraine’s] President Zelensky wants, that’s what we want, and putting pressure on Russia to withdraw their forces so we can get to that outcome, that’s the consistent message that I will be taking to countries all around the world.”

 The G7 summit is expected to introduce a host of new sanctions on Moscow.

"There will be upwards of 300 new sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft," a senior US administration official said.

On Thursday, a European Union official said they might target Russia's multi-billion-dollar diamond industry.

"We believe we need to limit exports from Russian trade in this sector," the official said.

Belgium, a member of the EU, is among the largest wholesale buyers of Russian diamonds, along with India and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States is a major end-market for the finished product.

"As today's sanctions announcements demonstrate, the G7 remains unified in the face of the threat from Russia and steadfast in our support for Ukraine," said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The United States and its allies have imposed a slew of sanctions on Moscow since its war with Ukraine began last year.

Moscow has downplayed Western sanctions as having no practical effect.

Russia began what it described as a "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, as part of a national security measure against the persisting eastern advance of the US-led NATO military alliance as well as protecting eastern Ukraine's Russian-speaking population against hostile efforts by Kiev.

Since then, the United States and most European Union member countries have supplied Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems despite Russia's repeated warnings that the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.

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