Poland proposes ban on Russian diamonds, LPG in new sanctions package

By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland proposed on Monday that new European Union sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine should include a ban on Russian diamonds and Liquid Petroleum Gas and called for aligning sanctions against Belarus with those against Moscow.

In a proposal seen by Reuters, Poland is calling for banning imports of Russian diamonds, the sales of which brought the Russian budget $4.5 billion in 2021, it said, and putting individual sanctions on the Russian Alrosa diamond company.

"Alrosa has supported Russian military forces and the Russian war efforts in Ukraine, both directly and indirectly, for many years," the Polish paper said.

The EU, which has already agreed 11 sanctions package against Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022, should also ban the provision of Information and Communication Technology services to entities from Russia, including computer software, cybersecurity services, and other ICT/IT services.

"In the 8th package of sanctions against Russia, IT consultancy services were banned. This is a fairly narrow scope. No further ICT services were banned in the 9th and 10th sanctions packages. We call for other services to be included in the ban, in accordance with Poland's proposals," it said.

The EU should also stop buying Russian Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Poland said, to preserve the integrity and transparency of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas market and avoid distortion of competition.

"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," it said.

The Polish proposal will now be considered by the European Commission, which would prepare a legal proposal that would have to be approved by all ambassadors of EU governments in Brussels. The final EU sanctions package against Russia, if and when it emerges, would not necessarily include all the elements of the Polish proposal.

The paper also calls for cutting the import quota on Russian synthetic rubber, which was introduced in the 10th sanctions package, banning imports of Russian steel shapes and cores and of caustic soda.

It also proposes that more Russian military industry companies be included in the new package, more media spreading the Kremlin's disinformation about the war in Ukraine and to sanction entities related to Rosatom nuclear energy company.

It also says Russia's unsanctioned Alfa-Group oligarch, Andrei Kosogov, should be targeted in the new package along with the AlfaStrakhovanie company, for insuring military vehicles used by the National Guard of the Russian Federation.

The paper finally calls for new sanctions against Belrus, which has been Moscow's ally in the war against Ukraine.

"The 'mini sanctions' package against Belarus adopted in July 2023 is not a sufficient safeguard against circumvention of Russian restrictive measures," the paper said.

"It is urgent that the EU adopts a new sanctions package against Belarus aligning measures between sanctions against Russian and Belarus. The current lack of alignment creates a systemic loop-hole where Belarus becomes a hub for circumventing EU sanctions against Russia," the paper said.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by David Evans)