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24 Apr, 2022 12:39

Swiss block Germany's Ukraine weapons plan – media

Switzerland has prohibited delivery of ammunition used by Germany’s Marder infantry fighting vehicles, according to a Swiss paper
Swiss block Germany's Ukraine weapons plan – media

Switzerland has allegedly thwarted German plans to re-export ammunition, made in the country, to Ukraine, local media reported on Sunday, citing the nation’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco). The Alpine nation cited its neutral status and legislation forbidding arms deliveries to conflict zones.

The fact that the Dusseldorf-based Rheinmetall automotive and arms manufacturer, which builds Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) for the German Army, uses ammunition produced in Switzerland has apparently emerged as a stumbling block to Berlin’s latest plans to supply ammunition to Kiev.

“Seco received two requests from Germany to pass ammunition [it] previously received from Switzerland on to Ukraine,” the secretariat confirmed to the Swiss paper Sonntags Zeitung on Sunday. Both requests “have been rejected with a reference to Swiss neutrality and bounding rejection criteria of the legislation on military equipment,” the Swiss authorities added.

Swiss law demands that Bern give its consent to any arms re-exports and forbids arms deliveries to conflict zones. Switzerland joined anti-Russian sanctions in a rare departure from its strict neutrality policy after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine, but it has still been adamant in its neutrality when it comes to any military aid to Ukraine.

According to the media, the Swiss veto on re-exporting ammunition has sparked anger in Germany due to having allegedly made it impossible to send any Marder IFVs to Ukraine. Berlin has never officially announced any such plans, though.

The German government has been criticized by fellow NATO members, particularly Poland, for supposedly not doing enough to support Ukraine. The issue has even caused some tensions within the cabinet.

Earlier in April, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany would send only “correct and reasonable” weapons to Kiev, adding that there have been no plans to send “offensive” weapons, such as tanks, that Ukraine repeatedly requested. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock then urged the West to provide Kiev with heavy weaponry and appeared to criticize Scholz, stressing that “now is not the time for excuses.”

Initially, Berlin provided Ukraine with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 anti-aircraft Stinger missiles. In mid-March, Germany said that due to security risks it would not disclose further information about supplies of weapons to Ukraine. In mid-April, Berlin announced it would allocate an additional $2.1 billion for military spending, most of which is earmarked for aiding Ukraine.

On Saturday, however, a group of German politicians and public figures, including former MPs and an ex-UN assistant secretary general, called on their government to cease delivering military aid to Ukraine and instead work to convince Kiev to abandon its military resistance in the name of peace and dialogue.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.