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Neutrality: Switzerland closes airspace to all parties in Ukraine conflict

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Neutrality: Switzerland closes airspace to all parties in Ukraine conflict
A French rafale fighter jet is takes off for a daily NATO border watch mission sortie over Poland at the Mont-de-Marsan airbase, southwestern France, on March 1st, 2022. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

Traditionally neutral Switzerland decided Friday not to grant any overflight requests from parties in the Ukraine conflict, nor from countries providing them with military support.

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The Swiss government said it had met to discuss how to deal with any requests to fly through Swiss airspace in connection with "the Russian aggression on Ukraine".

It decided that "any requests to fly over Swiss territory from the parties in the conflict, and other states aiming to provide military support to the parties in the conflict, notably to deliver war material, will not be granted," it said in a statement.

"This decision does not concern humanitarian or medical flights, including air transport of wounded people."

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Neutrality is one of Switzerland's main principles, dictating that the wealthy Alpine nation must not become involved in armed or political conflicts between other states.

READ ALSO: ‘A weapon of war’: Swiss politician calls for neutrality referendum

Historically, neutrality played an important role in the creation of the Swiss state, and was evoked in documents as far back as 1647, according to a government brochure published after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

Bern was, however, accused by some of breaking with its neutral tradition when it agreed to follow the neighbouring European Union's lead in slapping far-reaching sanctions on Russia over the invasion.

But the government insisted last week that "the implementation of these sanctions is compatible with Switzerland's neutrality."

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