Ukraine Crisis: Olaf Scholz negotiates with Vladamir Putin
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Authorities in Switzerland have reportedly rejected requests to re-export Swiss-made ammunition to Kyiv from Germany. A spokesperson for Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said: “The two German requests received a negative response, based on Swiss neutrality and the binding rejection criteria of the law on war material.”
Switzerland’s neutral status means the country prohibits the shipments of arms to countries involved in conflict.
Arms sales are also subject to a “no re-export declaration”, preventing weapons manufactured in Switzerland from being shipped to another country without prior approval of SECO.
Gerhard Pfister, chairman of the Swiss Centre Party, criticised the Swiss government’s decision, accusing it of a “failure to help Ukraine”.
But Laurent Goetschel, director of the Bern-based peace research institute Swisspeace, backed the government’s decision, saying: “You are not neutral one day and no longer neutral the next”.
Speaking to Swiss public radio SRF on Sunday, he continued: “Neutrality means that Switzerland does not provide direct or indirect military support to any of the parties to the conflict.
“In my view, this is with the aim of finding a solution, or even after a ceasefire has been reached.
“In other words, to be able to help the parties to the conflict agree on a minimum consensus so that hostilities do not flare up again.”
He added: “In this case, it is not about possible humanitarian aid, but about the fundamental orientation of Switzerland’s foreign and security policy.
“This should not be changed by a single conflict.”
The decision to block Germany’s requests for exports comes as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced growing criticism for his reluctance to send heavy weapons to Kyiv to help Ukraine resist Russian advances.
Mr Scholz has previously claimed that Germany’s own military stocks are too depleted to send heavy battlefield weapons and that those which could be easily supplied would be difficult to put into use.
Unlike other Western allies, Germany failed to send weapons to Ukraine in the lead-up to the invasion, which began on February 24.
It even blocked other countries from sending German-origin military equipment to Ukraine as a result of its long-standing policy of not exporting arms to war zones.
However, it later pledged 1,000 anti-tank munitions and 500 Stinger missiles, after overturning its long-standing ban on exporting weapons to conflict zones.
But earlier in April, Mr Scholz stood in the way of Western allies, as Volodymyr Zelensky begged them to send tanks and jets to Ukraine.
Last month, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis ruled out sending arms to Poland in order to abide by neutrality rules.
The Swiss foreign ministry also reportedly asked Canada, a NATO member, to withdraw its request to send arms from the UK to Italy through Swiss airspace.
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