Formerly neutral nation grants legal exemption for sending supplies to Kyiv
The Bern parliament’s security policy committee voted on Tuesday in favor of allowing third countries to supply Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine. Current Swiss laws prohibit such exports to countries involved in an international conflict.
With 14 votes in favor and 11 against, the committee approved a motion to amend the Law on War Material, so that it no longer requires the declaration of non-re-export from EU countries wishing to supply Kyiv with weapons. The motion proposes to suspend the requirement “in cases where there is a violation of the international prohibition on the use of force, and more particularly in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian war”, the committee said in a statement.
“A majority of the committee considered that Switzerland should contribute to European security, which involves greater aid to Ukraine,” add the statement.
One of the proposals was to revoke the non-re-export declaration in the event of a two-thirds majority vote in the UN General Assembly indicating that an unlawful use of force had taken place. The other, which eventually passed, was considering an emergency law that would override the requirement specifically for Ukraine, amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, according to AFP.
Change should be embraced “rapidly” and remain in place until the end of 2025, according to the motion. The Swiss government could always veto the transfer of arms in cases where this poses “Major” risks for Switzerland’s foreign policy. The motion now heads to the full parliament for a vote.
Responding to the minority’s objections that such transfers would threaten Switzerland’s traditional neutrality, the majority said they considered the motion fully compliant, “since it does not allow direct exports of war material to conflict areas.”
Russia has previously said Switzerland lost its traditional neutrality last year when the Alpine confederation joined in EU sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.
The United States and its allies supplied nearly $93 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine in 2022, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Spain had attempted to send 35mm ammunition for German-made Gepard anti-aircraft guns, while Denmark wanted to deliver a number of Piranha III light armored vehicles. As both are made in Switzerland, however, Switzerland had blocked their export, Madrid revealed earlier this month.