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Ukraine targets India's leading diamond firm, puts it in ‘international war sponsors’ list

SRK countered the allegations of NACP, claiming that it had consistently operated within the framework of the national and international guidelines, complying with all regulations issued by the UN, Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury, and other national and international authorities.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 17 September 2023, 17:27 IST
Last Updated : 17 September 2023, 17:27 IST

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Ukraine has targeted one of India's leading diamond manufacturing and exporting companies and put it on the list of ‘international war sponsors’.

Ukraine has accused the firm of continuing to purchase the precious stones in Russia and thus defying sanctions imposed on the former Soviet Union nation.

Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) added Shree Ramkrishna Exports Private Limited (SRK) to its list of international sponsors of the war that Russia launched against the east European nation in February 2022.

The move by Kyiv came amid a renewed action plan by the G7 nations to expand the sanctions that would cover gemstones mined in Russia and are then cut and polished in countries like India.

It also came just days after India persuaded the US and the West, at the 18th G20 summit in New Delhi, to accept a declaration that refrained from condemning Russia for its military aggression against Ukraine.

SRK, however, claimed that Ukraine targeted the company with an “apparent intent” of tarnishing the image of the diamond industry in India.

“SRK does not endorse or support any kind of war or conflict anywhere in the world,” stated the company founded by diamond tycoon Govind Dholakia.

Kyiv had, in May, also moved against C K Birla Group of Companies and its subsidiary National Engineering Industries Limited (NEI) for helping the military industry of Russia to replace critical bearings in its tanks.

Ukraine’s NACP alleged that SRK continues to cooperate with the ‘aggressor’ by purchasing diamonds in Russia, defying the sanctions.

“Despite the international sanctions that were introduced in April 2022 against the largest diamond miner in the world, Alrosa of Russia, SRK continued to buy diamonds in Russia, making ‘secret deals’ for the purchase of precious stones worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” it alleged.

The Ukrainian agency also alleged that SRK had purchased diamonds worth $59 million in Russia in 2021, $198 million in 2022 and $132 million only in the first half of 2023.

SRK countered the allegations of NACP, claiming that it had consistently operated within the framework of the national and international guidelines, complying with all regulations issued by the UN, Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury, and other national and international authorities.

“SRK exclusively sources rough diamonds from countries that are active participants in the Kimberley Process, ensuring they have a certified origin,” the company added in a statement posted on its website.

SRK added that it had never engaged in any transactions with the entities or individuals involved in any form of conflict or under sanctions imposed by the UN, the US OFAC, or authorities in India.

“SRK emphasises unequivocally that it stands for peace and harmony”.

With 90 per cent of the world’s diamonds being cut and polished in India, the G7 nations are likely to nudge New Delhi to help implement the proposed tougher sanctions on the gemstone industry in Russia.

The new set of sanctions is proposed to come into force on January 1, 2024.  

New Delhi has been drawing flak from the West for not joining the US and others in condemning Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

It refrained from criticising Moscow, apparently in view of its deep Cold War-era ties with Russia, particularly its decades-old dependence on the former Soviet Union nation for defence equipment, including high-tech military hardware.

India has also been circumventing sanctions imposed by the US and other western nations on Russia and continuing bilateral trade. It has also increased oil and coal imports from Russia.

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Published 17 September 2023, 17:27 IST

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