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11 May, 2024 09:01

Switzerland rejects Russian claim it’s no longer neutral

Moscow has called an upcoming Ukraine conference “pointless,” saying Bern is “openly hostile” and can’t serve as a mediator
Switzerland rejects Russian claim it’s no longer neutral

Switzerland’s neutrality remains unchanged, the country’s foreign ministry has insisted ahead of the peace conference on the Ukraine conflict next month. Russia has accused Bern of effectively siding with the West and Kiev in the current confrontation, making it an unfit mediator.

According to the Swiss government, the ‘Peace in Ukraine’ summit aims to pave the way towards a “just and lasting peace” in the eastern European country. Bern has invited more than 160 delegations from around the world, including members of the G7, G20, BRICS, and EU. However, Switzerland has not extended an invitation to Russia.

Moscow has described the upcoming gathering as “pointless,” and said it would refuse to participate even if it were invited. The Kremlin has argued that the conference is based around Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s peace formula, which Russia has dismissed as an unrealistic ultimatum.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin deemed Bern’s seemingly mutually exclusive statements absurd. He stressed that “we are not being invited there” while at the same time “it is being said that it’s impossible to resolve anything” without Russia.

On Friday, Reuters quoted a Swiss foreign ministry representative as stressing that Bern’s neutrality is “constant” and will not be affected by the summit on June 15-16. The statement noted, however, that “being neutral does not mean being indifferent.”

“Switzerland strongly condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Outside the military realm, the right to neutrality does not stand in the way of solidarity and support for Ukraine and its people,” the ministry clarified, as quoted by Reuters.

Despite not being a member of either the EU or NATO, Switzerland has supported the West’s sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
Last month, the country’s national agency overseeing sanctions revealed that Bern was holding an estimated 13 billion francs ($14.3 billion) in Russian assets, which remain frozen in its financial institutions.

Also in April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters that “Switzerland simply does not suit us” as a host of any peace negotiations with Ukraine.

“It is not a neutral party, it has turned from neutral to openly hostile,” the diplomat claimed at the time.

While some political forces in Switzerland advocate aligning the country’s position more with the US and the EU, a poll conducted by the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich, a research university, which was published in March, demonstrated that some 91% of Swiss citizens believe the country should stay neutral.

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