The European Council approved a 12th package of sanctions against Russia that includes a ban on Russian diamonds.

Russian diamonds alone add an estimated $4 to $5 billion to Russia’s economy.

The sanctions are an attempt to cut off the fuel for Russia’s war machine by limiting its revenues and reducing its access to high technology and metals.

So far, sanctions have had limited success in reducing Russia’s ability to wage war on its neighbor, but the West isn’t giving up and is looking to both add new sanctions and make the existing ones more effective.

“We continue to stand with Ukraine, through thick and thin,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

Belgium, which hosts a major diamond trading hub in its city of Antwerp, dropped its hesitation towards the ban following a G7 decision backing the measure. 

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The industry has proposed several solutions, including a tracking system, to limit the fallout of the sanctions on the business.

The sanctions package also extends EU efforts to restrict technology Moscow can use to attack Ukraine, including adding 29 more companies to a list of entities prohibited from exporting products able to help Russia's arms industry.

Some of those companies are in countries outside the EU and are suspected of circumventing the bloc's sanctions, according to a European Council statement.

Some countries, such as Kazakhstan, are accused of helping Russia import certain products and technologies that can bolster its military industry.

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The EU is also seeking better enforcement of previous sanctions hitting Russian oil exports, which place a price cap of $60 a barrel on its crude.

Russia has been able to sidestep that measure by building a “dark fleet” of oil tankers, and also with the help of China and India, a researcher at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, Alexandra Prokopenko, recently stated.

The EU countries agreed to a “strengthened information sharing mechanism” for tankers designed to identify ships involved in practices such as ship-to-ship oil transfers at sea, the European Council statement said

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Brussels stated that the measures are aimed at causing “additional damage” to Russia and are aimed at important sectors of the Russian economy.

“The [EU] will continue to provide strong financial, economic, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine and its people as long as it is needed,” it stated.

The new package of sanctions from Brussels will reportedly enter into force following publication in the Official Journal of the EU, Interfax reported.

This article includes reporting from AFP.

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