Switzerland to consider new German request to allow arms re-exports to Ukraine

ZURICH (Reuters) – Germany has made another request to neutral Switzerland to allow it to re-export Swiss-made munitions to Ukraine for use in its war against Russia, after being rebuffed earlier this year.

A spokesman for Switzerland’s economic affairs department said a letter to this effect had been received from the German Defense Ministry, adding that Economic Affairs Minister Guy Parmelin “will respond to this letter in due course”. The spokesman declined to say whether Ukraine had also made representations to the Swiss government.

A Defense Ministry spokesman in Berlin declined to comment on the letter, saying Germany was still in constructive talks with its partners. The country supplied 30 Gepard tanks to Ukraine and some 60,000 cartridges.

In April, Bern vetoed the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used by Gepard anti-aircraft tanks. The 35mm shells were originally supplied by Swiss companies to the German military decades ago, but their re-export was blocked after the Swiss government said the deliveries would violate Swiss neutrality law.

Explaining its position in June, the government said that “on the basis of the export criteria described in the War Material Act and the principle of equal treatment under the Neutrality Act, Switzerland cannot approve requests for the transfer of war material produced in Switzerland to Ukraine”.

German Defense Minister Chistine Lambrecht has written to her Swiss counterpart, Viola Amherd, asking her to reconsider her decision, the Swiss newspaper Tages-Angzeiger reported on Thursday.

Ukraine has also asked Bern to allow deliveries, according to the newspaper.

The eight-month conflict in Ukraine has seen Switzerland stray from its normal stance of complete non-alignment, with Bern mirroring nearly all of the sanctions the European Union has imposed on Moscow.

The change led Russia to refuse a Swiss offer to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia and Moscow’s interests in Ukraine, as it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country.

Last month, Switzerland announced that it would temporarily suspend the exchange of tax information with Russia and make it more difficult for Russian citizens to obtain visas.

(Reporting by John Revill in Zurich; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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