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Ukraine conflict: Will Switzerland impose sanctions on Russia?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 23 Feb, 2022 Updated Wed 23 Feb 2022 16:37 CEST
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Russian leader Vladimir Putin and former President Guy Parmelin. DENIS BALIBOUSE / POOL / AFP

The conflict on the Russian-Ukrainian border continues to escalate. How will Switzerland respond?

Russia’s recognition of the ‘independence’ of two rebel-held Ukrainian regions and continued threats of invasion have led to a range of diplomatic repercussions. 

Germany has already paused the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, while the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom have announced wide ranging sanctions to bring Russia into line. 

Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union or NATO but maintains close ties with both, has been heavily critical of Russia’s actions, saying they are a "a blatant violation of international law, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

“Switzerland does not recognise the independence of these areas (Donetsk and Luhansk). They remain part of Ukrainian territory," Swiss State Secretary Livia Leu told the media on Tuesday. 

Switzerland however indicated on Tuesday that any possible sanctions would be exercised in conjunction with the EU rather than unilaterally. 

‘Unilateral sanctions would not make much sense’

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said Switzerland would act in conjunction with the international community. 

“Unilateral sanctions would not make much sense for a small player like Switzerland,” said Leu on Tuesday. 

“Security in Europe affects us all. An armed conflict could mean refugees, but also disruptions to the economy.”

Leu said Switzerland would not automatically adopt EU sanctions but would make a decision when the nature of the sanctions became clearer. 

The Federal Council is set to make a decision on Wednesday regarding whether or not to adopt the measures proposed by the EU. 

“The EU and the US have said clearly that sanctions would be applied as soon as there was a military intervention. From when this applies is a question of political assessment.”

Leu reaffirmed that while it “had strong respect” for sanctions proposed by the US and the UK, "Switzerland is fundamentally concerned with the decisions of the EU."

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The Local 2022/02/23 16:37

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