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24 Nov, 2022 09:28

Switzerland rules on arms deliveries to Russia and Ukraine

Debate has raged in the Alpine nation about how its alignment with the EU, in support of Kiev, affects neutrality
Switzerland rules on arms deliveries to Russia and Ukraine

Switzerland has prohibited weapons exports to Russia, a measure which will be partially applicable to Ukraine as well, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) announced on Wednesday.

It cited the nation’s traditional neutrality. However, officials did not clarify what partial restrictions have been put in place for Kiev.

In a statement, the ministry said Bern had joined the latest package of EU sanctions against Moscow, which was adopted by the bloc in early October.

In addition to these restrictions, Switzerland slapped Russia with an arms embargo, which “is being partly extended to Ukraine for the reasons of Swiss neutrality.” The arms embargoes had been imposed based on Swiss war material and goods control laws, but now the measures have been “explicitly included in the regulation in connection with the situation in Ukraine,” the SECO statement read.

The EU’s eighth sanctions package includes a legal basis for imposing a price cap on Russian oil, as well as restrictions on steel products, aerospace goods and other items, which are economically important for Russia.

The principle of neutrality is one of the cornerstones of Switzerland’s foreign policy, which means it cannot get involved in a conflict and cannot support any side militarily. Last week, accordingly, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis signaled that his country would not send weapons to Ukraine or directly or indirectly take part in armed conflicts despite outside pressure.

However, while in June the nation’s authorities refused to allow third countries to deliver war materials of Swiss origin to Kiev, they said shipments of military equipment containing Swiss-made parts to European armaments companies “should remain possible,” even if they may end up in Ukraine.

In August, Russia said that, after Switzerland joined anti-Russia sanctions, it “had lost its neutrality,” which makes the Alpine country unfit to act as a mediator representing Ukraine’s diplomatic interests in Russia.

In October, the Swiss Federal Council, however, insisted that Bern had not broken with its neutral tradition by imposing sanctions on Russia, arguing that the restrictions were in line with the nation’s long-standing policy.