© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Models of a pump jack and oil barrels are seen in front of the British and Russian flag colors displayed in this illustration taken March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Friday announced its intention to ban imports of Russian diamonds, aluminium, aluminum and nickel and announced new sanctions against Russia, targeting companies linked to the alleged theft of Ukrainian cereals.
The United States and Canada also announced new sanctions against Russia for its war against Ukraine. Washington has imposed sanctions on gold producer Polyus and the Russian operations of its counterpart Polymetal, which would further hurt Russian gold sales already hit by Western sanctions and restrictions.
The UK import ban, however, will only have a moderate impact, as Russian exports of these products to the UK have already plummeted following the imposition of the tariffs.
“We will legislate later this year to ban imports of Russian diamonds and end all imports of copper, aluminum and nickel of Russian origin,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.
The data shows that Britain imported only a small proportion of its aluminium, nickel and diamonds from Russia.
Last March, the British government imposed an additional 35% duty on imports of Russian base metals. Then the London Metal Exchange (LME) suspended deliveries of Russian copper, aluminium, nickel and lead from its licensed warehouses in Britain, although there were none in storage.
“The LME will closely monitor the latest developments for further details and will communicate to the market in due course if the LME considers further action is necessary beyond the suspension already in place,” he said on Friday.
Russia is a major producer of aluminum, nickel and diamonds. Britain’s import ban plans were announced before G7 countries discussed how to trace Russia’s diamond trade with the aim of imposing restrictions at a later stage.
“The global market is fluid, rich in alternative destinations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday when asked about possible future restrictions on diamonds in the European Union.
Russia is also one of the largest gold producers in the world, along with China and Australia.
The latest US sanctions on the operations of its two main gold miners come on top of sanctions imposed on major Russian banks, which were the country’s main gold exporters before the war, and the June ban by the Great -Britain, the United States, Japan and Canada. new imports of Russian gold.
The ban was imposed as Russian exports to the West had already dried up as trade in Russian gold, according to industry players, was redirected to Asia, where most countries did not impose sanctions on Russia.
The US sanctions only target the Russian part of Polymetal – Polimetall AO – and do not apply to the parent company, Polymetal International PLC, which is based on the island of Jersey and has assets in Kazakhstan.
In May, Polymetal asked its shareholders to approve the re-domiciliation to Kazakhstan from Jersey, as it hopes to separate its Russian and Kazakh operations next year.
Britain has also targeted “shady individuals and entities” linked to the theft and resale of Ukrainian grain, which Russia has been accused of and denied.
The targeting of entities involved in the grain trade is unusual as such activity generally falls under humanitarian exemptions. Russia and Ukraine are major grain exporters to Africa and the Middle East.
“These grain and other agricultural products are believed to have been stolen from warehouses and fields in the temporarily occupied territories in Ukraine,” the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement.
Russian nickel and copper producers Nornickel and Polymetal declined to comment. Aluminum producer Rusal, diamond miner Alrosa and Polyus did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.