According to OEC data, the diamond trade accounted for more than 25% of the value of exports from Russia to Belgium in 2020. The Belgian diamond import industry was worth around $1.45 billion, representing Belgium’s second-largest source of Russian imports after fuels.
In a speech to the Belgian parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticised the Belgian government for valuing diamonds sold in Antwerp over the lives of Ukrainians.
The Russian diamond industry, dominated by partially state-owned company Alrosa, has close connections to the Russian nuclear sector.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo has resisted calls to end trade with Russia, stating that halting the lucrative purchase of diamonds would have a stronger impact in Europe than in Russia.
The Belgian diamond industry has stated that it is opposed to any sanctions over fears that the industry will relocate elsewhere. According to advocacy groups such as Promote Ukraine, this shows that Belgium is still reliant on some Russian products.