Switzerland refuses to send tanks to Ukraine, citing NEUTRALITY policy

Switzerland has refused to transfer tanks to Ukraine for the second time, citing its historical policy of neutrality.

Al-Arabiyah News reported that the landlocked European nation declined to allow the transfer of 96 Leopard 1 A5 tanks on June 28. Despite pressure from Ukraine and its allies, the neutral country has rejected allowing countries to permit the re-export of Swiss-made materiel in aid of Kyiv.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, exporting the 96 tanks manufactured by Swiss defense firm RUAG was "not possible under the law as it stands." It explained that "such a sale would contravene the War Materiel Act and would result in a shift from Switzerland's policy of neutrality." Under that Act, weapons re-exports are prohibited if the recipient country is in an international armed conflict.

The landlocked country of 8.8 million has a long-standing position of well-armed military neutrality. However, that tradition of neutrality has been under fire since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in February 2022. The council stressed it had "given priority to Switzerland’s commitments as a neutral country and to the reliability of its application of the rule of law.

On June 1, the National Council – Switzerland's lower house of parliament – voted against a plan to specifically authorize the transfer of Swiss-made arms to Ukraine. The country had earlier rejected explicit requests from countries such as Denmark, Spain and Germany.

RUAG purchased the used and non-operational 96 Leopard 1 A5 tanks from an agency of the Italian Ministry of Defense back in 2016. The company initially intended to refurbish the tanks – which are still in Italy – for potential buyers.

The tanks were due to be sent to their German manufacturer for restoration, with Dutch funding. However, the conflict required an urgent demand for tanks for Ukraine – a demand addressed by shipments from Germany and the U.S. as of writing.

Zelensky: Swiss decision to re-export weapons "vital" to Ukraine effort

The June 28 decision was widely expected, according to Al-Arabiya News. Regardless, the Swiss National Assembly is considering ways to relax the country's long-standing principle of neutrality. Under the principle, which dates back to 1815 and is enshrined by a treaty in 1907, Switzerland will not send weapons directly or indirectly to combatants in a war.

Swiss lawmakers are proposing to reform legislation and allow arms to be re-exported to a country at war, albeit under certain conditions. The exceptions may be limited to five years. Proposed conditions include the recipient country exercising its right to self-defense; the United Nations (UN) Security Council or a two-thirds majority of the UN General Assembly sanctioning a violation of international law; and the purchasing country pledging not to re-export the arms.

Such a proposal would be welcome news for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who urged Switzerland on June 15 to allow the re-export of weapons to Kyiv. According to him, the move would be vital in defeating Russia.

"I know there is a discussion in Switzerland about the exportation of war materiel to protect and defend Ukraine. That would be vital," Zelensky said in a video address to both chambers of the Swiss parliament. "We need weapons so we can restore peace in Ukraine."

During the same address, the Ukrainian leader thanked Switzerland for adopting EU sanctions against Russia. He, however, stressed that more sanctions were needed. Switzerland has adopted the bloc's sanctions against Moscow and has frozen Russian assets worth $556 million.

"It is very important to show solidarity because these sanctions will help us to end (the) aggression," Zelensky reiterated. "We have to strengthen the sanctions."

(Article by Ramon Tomey republished from NaturalNews.com)

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