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UKRAINE

Switzerland extends sanctions against Russia over Ukraine invasion

Switzerland has implemented its sixth set of sanctions against Russia, which are primarily targeted at oil imports.

It remains to be seen if Ukrainians are allowed to stay permanently in Switzerland. Photo by Pexels
Protesters in support of Ukraine have their say in Switzerland. Photo by Pexels

The measures, decided by the EU on June 3rd, came into force in Switzerland at 6 pm on Wednesday, the Federal Council announced.

They include an embargo on crude oil and certain refined petroleum products from Russia.

“Similar to the measures applicable in the EU, the purchase, import, transit and transport to or within Switzerland are prohibited”, the government said.  

“In addition, the embargo provides for a ban on the provision of services, including insurance or reinsurance, in connection with the transport of oil and certain Russian petroleum products”.  

The provision of services such as accounting, public relations and business consultancy to the Russian government is now also banned, in addition to advertising content produced or broadcast by official Russian media such as Russia Today or Sputnik.

Swiss government under fire for Ukraine action

The Swiss government has faced criticism on both sides for its actions after the Ukraine invasion. 

Initially, the government faced criticism both domestically and abroad for putting in place the sanctions, which some said amounted to an erosion of the long-standing principle of neutrality. 

Sanctions on Russia: Is Switzerland still a neutral nation?

When the announcement was made, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis acknowledged that while the step was “unique” Switzerland was not abandoning its “untouchable” commitment to neutrality, countering that “playing into the hands of an aggressor is not neutral.”

More recently, the government has come under fire for blocking arms deliveries to Ukraine made by other countries. 

Several European nations have been blocked from delivering arms to the front lines of the conflict, for instance where they contain ammunition which is manufactured in Switzerland

This is due to Switzerland’s commitment to neutrality. While political alliances can be made – which includes the imposition of sanctions such as those levied against Russia – providing military assistance is prohibited, even where this is done so indirectly. 

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UKRAINE

Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold

Switzerland, a key refiner and manufacturer of gold bars, is banning imports of the precious metal from Russia, the government said Wednesday.

Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold

The central government aligned itself with EU sanctions which, on July 21, added a ban on gold imports of Russian origin to the list of restrictions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ban came into effect at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, Switzerland’s Federal Council said in a statement.

Under the new sanctions, Switzerland forbids “buying, importing or transporting gold and gold products from Russia”, the statement said, adding that “services in connection with these goods are also prohibited”.

Traditionally neutral, Switzerland broke with its usual stance in the days after the start of the war in Ukraine by aligning itself with European Union economic sanctions.

In May, three tons of gold from Russia were imported from Britain, but it was not clear which company was responsible for bringing it to Switzerland, Bloomberg News reported.

The Swiss Association of Manufacturers and Traders in Precious Metals (ASFCMP), which represents the country’s largest refineries, contacted its members and said none of them were responsible for the imports.

The association insisted that “doubtful gold” had “no place in Switzerland” and urged its members to act “with the utmost caution”.

Swiss customs said at the time they were examining the imports in light of the sanctions, but insisted that gold imports from Russia were not banned.

While gold exports were already subject to sanctions, imports were not banned under the sanctions order, customs officials said.

The fourth package of sanctions imposed by the EU included luxury goods, banning the sale, supply, transfer or export of luxury goods to Russia, including gold, silver, pearls and diamonds.

But on July 21, the EU also explicitly added a ban on importing gold from Russia, including in the form of powder, debris or gold coins.

Switzerland has several refineries to recycle gold and melt ingots.

The sector employs 1,500 people, according to ASFCMP.

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