Poland mulling ban on Russian diamonds, LPG
Poland wants to ban the import of Russian diamonds in a bid to further restrict the Russian economy over the Ukraine war.
Poland on Monday tabled a proposal to the European Union EU that seeks to broaden existing sanctions on Russia in light of the Ukraine war.
The Polish government, in a document reviewed by Reuters, called for the inclusion of a ban on Russian diamonds and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) imports in the EU's sanctions imposed on Moscow.
As Warsaw seeks to restrict Russia, it also wants an uptick in sanctions on its ally, Belarus. Poland wants the sanctions in place on Belarus to be unified with those in place on Russia.
Russian diamonds have been a significant source of revenue for the nation, contributing a staggering $4.5 billion to the Russian budget in 2021.
Poland's proposal suggests an outright prohibition on the import of Russian diamonds, with a focus on individual sanctions against the Russian diamond giant, Alrosa. It claims in its proposal that Alrosa played a pivotal role in supporting the Ukraine war directly and indirectly over an extended period, which has only played the role of a catalyzer in the Polish push for further sanctions on Russia.
IT sanctions need recalibrating
Russia has been under a slew of sanctions since the Ukraine war broke out, with the EU imposing 11 rounds of sanctions on the country. However, Warsaw seems unsatisfied still as it seeks to widen the scope of the sanctions in question, going as far as calling for the suspension of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Russian entities, which would affect numerous sectors, including computer software, cybersecurity services, and several other ICT and IT services.
Poland, as it highlighted that IT was targeted in the eighth package of sanctions, stresses the importance of a wider scope of focus, arguing that subsequent sanctions packages did not expand on the prohibitions in question.
"In the 8th package of sanctions against Russia, IT consultancy services were banned [...] No further ICT services were banned in the 9th and 10th sanctions packages. Therefore, we call for other services to be included in the ban, in accordance with Poland's proposals," Poland's proposal said.
Poland, as it pushes for stricter sanctions, is also calling on the EU to halt its purchase of Russian LPG as it claims that the reason behind this decision is to ensure the integrity and transparency of the LPG market
"Although LPG is a petroleum product, it has not fallen within the scope of the EU's embargo on the products belonging to the aforementioned category," the Polish document said.
The push for further sanctions on Russia comes despite EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borell saying that while the sanctions on Russia were "working."
"Within a year, they [sanctions] have already limited Moscow’s options considerably, causing financial strain, cutting the country from key markets and significantly degrading Russia’s industrial and technological capacity," Borrell wrote in his blog in August.
While it goes without saying that Russia's economy did receive a number of painful hits - most of which Moscow arguably recovered from to an extent since - EU's top diplomat resorted to citing numbers from the Russian economy without benchmarking them to those of its industrial neighbors in Europe, which are doing significantly worse as per public records, international financial think tanks and organizations, and even their own central banks.
Moreover, while claiming that the sanctions are "producing hard, tangible effects across Russia's economy," an earlier IMF report forecasted that the Russian economy is not at a stalemate, rather it will continue to grow by 0.7 percent in 2023, and 1.3 percent in 2024.
Borrell's assessment did not match that of Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who concluded that the continent's anti-Russia sanctions policy was directly orchestrated by the United States and has led the bloc to become a laughing stock for the world as the sanctions continue to backfire on European economies.
"The USA has pushed Europe into the competition of who will help Ukraine and how much: a military aid competition," he said, pointing out that European officials "accepted this provocation" even though "we are literally destroying Europe."
Meanwhile, Borrell claimed, "Looking at Russia’s long-term growth prospects, the technological degradation and the exit of foreign companies will hamper investment and productivity growth for years."