Russian diamond company Alrosa makes billions trading the precious stones on the Antwerp market. However, it now seems likely that the funds are being used for nefarious reasons.
Alongside rough diamonds, Alrosa has business interests in the mining, processing and storage of uranium, according to reports from DeMorgen.
Just a year after Alrosa started working with uranium, the material used by power plants to create nuclear fission, Alrosa began a partnership with the Russian nuclear agency Rosatum.
Rosatom was founded by none other than Vladimir Putin himself and it actively processes uranium for nuclear energy as well as produces nuclear weapons.
Alrosa extracts uranium and has a business partnership with the company that creates Russia’s nuclear weapons. That same company receives billions from Antwerp’s diamond sector, so it looks as though the money Antwerp's diamond sector sends to Alrosa funds Russia's nuclear weapons.
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These discoveries shocked Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt (Vooruit) who called for tougher sanctions. "This goes beyond a link to Russia. We are talking about warships and nuclear weapons. It can't get any more cynical. If it is not illegal, then it is certainly immoral," she said in DeMorgen.
Turning up the pressure
Antwerp's diamond district has recently been reeling from the EU's sanctions on Russia, as Russia is a crucial partner for the city's diamond trade.
The European Commission is set to discuss a fifth wave of sanctions against Russia this week, although it is unclear if Antwerp's diamond trade will be included in any potential sanctions.
86% of the world's rough diamonds pass through Antwerp's diamond district, according to Antwerp World Diamond Centre and the diamonds are responsible for 5% of Belgium's exports.