Swiss president opposes supply of arms to Ukraine, reiterates neutrality

Switzerland's President Alain Berset. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
By Thomas Brooke
2 Min Read

Switzerland will continue to oppose the supply of arms to Ukraine as the country retains its constitutional neutrality, President Alain Berset confirmed on Tuesday.

Berset, who assumed the rotating role of Swiss president for 2023, reiterated his country’s commitment to providing humanitarian support for Ukraine and will continue to fall in line with EU-led Russian sanctions. However, he rejected any notion of the country supplying arms directly to Ukraine or permitting the re-export of weapons.

“The discussion about the export of arms, weapons… with the legal framework we have in Switzerland, it is not possible to do it,” Berset told reporters on the sidelines of meetings at the United Nations.

“For the government and for the Federal Council, we have to, and we want to, maintain this legal framework and to work within this legal framework,” he added,

Berset had his first meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday in which he condemned Russia’s military aggression and discussed “Switzerland’s strong humanitarian commitment to Ukraine” referencing a €115 million support package toward demining efforts and the protection of civilians in the country.

“Switzerland stands in solidarity with Ukraine,” Berset added.

Swiss lawmakers have been grappling with the country’s long-held principle of neutrality in recent weeks. The country’s neutrality law dictates that Swiss-made arms and ammunition cannot be delivered directly to warring countries; however, some within the Swiss parliament want the country to approve the re-export of arms previously sold to Western allies to Ukraine.

“We are neutral and will remain so, but in the current situation we are in fact preventing our Western partners from supporting Ukraine,” liberal politician Thierry Burkart said last month.

The country has so far refused to sign off on re-export requests from Germany and Spain, and Berset’s recent remarks suggest the country will refrain from doing so.

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