Since the 1980s, Switzerland uses Leopard 87 tanks, ninety-six of them have been retired and are stored in the depots.
The Upper House Security Committee of Switzerland’s parliament has stated that the German-made Leopard tanks are an important part of the country’s military reserves and must not be returned to Germany and in turn to Ukraine.
By this decision, Switzerland has given a reminder of its decisions in the wake of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. It brings into focus the fact that Bern is still embracing the policy of neutrality and non-aggression in this unfair war. Switzerland has not only rejected the unfair demands of the West but also asserted its authority in the international order in the face of repeated violations of laws by Biden and Leyen.
While most of these tanks were created in Switzerland under a German license, 35 of them were created in Germany in 1987.
A few MPs in the Swiss parliament stated that 30 of these retired tanks should be given back to Germany, following Berlin’s decision to provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help in the war against Moscow. But the majority of members of the Security Committee emphasised that the nation’s retired tanks are strategically important and must be safeguarded at any cost.
The committee also noted that tanks can still be utilised to fully equip the Swiss military or as a source of spare parts for the current tank fleet. The parliamentary group also turned down another proposal which was requesting an amendment in the Swiss Military Hardware Act to allow the re-export of Swiss weapons to Zelensky.
The Swiss Military Hardware Act currently prohibits other countries from re-exporting any Swiss arms, military equipment or spare parts, unless they are built into other nations’ military equipment. The Swiss government justified its decision by stating that making an exception for Kyiv would violate the legal principle of equal treatment of other countries written in the Neutrality Law of Switzerland.
How Swiss government refused to side with Ukraine?
Ukraine has been trying really hard to set up or force Western nations to provide money for rebuilding Ukraine. Ukraine told an international conference that it will cost an estimated $750 billion to rebuild the war-shattered country, and labelled it as a responsibility of the democratic world to do it.
When it comes to the lost cause of Ukraine, which has become a laughable cautionary tale for the entire world, Switzerland has not shied away from asserting its neutral stance and foreign policy. Unlike other Western countries which threw themselves into the self-caused fire of infinite diplomatic and political blunders, Bern trod carefully on the unpredictable path of geopolitics.
Unlike Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen, President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis realises that if Switzerland sides with Zelensky, it would suffer the fate of the US and Ukraine. Apparently, Washington and Brussels are catching up with unprecedented repercussions of financially supporting and militarily backing Ukraine. They have a lot to learn from Switzerland which has time and again rejected the unreasonable demands of Zelensky and his incompetent associates.
This was seen in July last year when the prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyal, asked Switzerland to help in the reconstruction efforts of the war-torn country to which Bern said “No”. Thus, Switzerland upheld its principle of neutrality in turning down the demand of Kyiv.
Read more: Switzerland ditches its defence ties with Germany
Shymal’s brazen greed led him to demand Bern to use the frozen assets of wealthy Russian citizens, stored in Swiss, to contribute to the $750 billion fund established for the reconstruction project of Ukraine. However, Bern’s conscience and morality prompted it to remind Kyiv that Zelensky’s proposal of seizing billions of dollar worth of Russian wealth will establish a wrong example for Switzerland.
According to the Swiss Bankers Association, the net assets of Russian clients deposited in banks of Switzerland totalled $150-210 billion, making the nation an important repository of Russian money abroad.
Following this decision, President Ignazio Cassis told the media in Lugano, “You have to ensure the citizens are protected against the power of the state. This is what we call liberal democracies.”
He also noted that the right to property is a fundamental right and the Swiss government will continue to uphold it.
The mountainous central European country is an enigma when it comes to diplomacy. Many European countries started to change their diplomatic tunes with Russia as the war progressed. Unlike them, Switzerland had only one policy. Indeed, the best policy. NEUTRALITY.
In MAY, 2022, the Swiss government decided to release some frozen assets of Russian oligarchs previously held up in the country. The decision stands courageous but goes against the likes of most of its European counterparts and the USA.
When asked about this, Bollinger, who is head of the Bilateral Economic Relations Division at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said, Switzerland could not simply freeze funds if it did not have “sufficient grounds”.
Bern and Moscow once had good ties
Since Switzerland understands the potential dangers of having a political, military and economic relationship with Ukraine, it also realises the significance of having strong ties with Russia. Before the initiation of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and subsequent Western pressure to impose sanctions on Moscow, Switzerland acted as a major market for Russian commodities.
However, under increasing pressure from the US and European Union, Bern which is one of the largest trading partners of Russia decided to ban financing and insurance on the transportation of oil from Moscow.
But earlier the mountain country used to import gold from Russia. In fact, last year it imported 3.1 tonnes of gold worth $200 million from Moscow which accounted for 2-3% of its total gold imports according to the customs data.
Breaking Germany’s heart
Similarly, Switzerland took a stand which rejected the hegemony of Germany, the de facto leader of the organisation of the European Union. Here, Switzerland rejected the green agenda of the EU by asserting its sovereignty.
The Indian Express reported in September last year that Bern had announced plans to build a nuclear waste storage facility near its border with Germany, which infuriated the German government.
Switzerland emphasised that the project was extremely important, it involves burying spent nuclear fuel deep into the earth in clay after over five decades of searching for ways to store its radioactive waste.
The agency in charge of managing the nation’s radioactive waste announced on Saturday that it chose the Nördlich Lägern region as the best location out of three options for the facility’s subterranean storage.
Currently, the waste is being kept in transitory storage in Würenlingen, which is 15.4 miles (29.3 km) from the German border. But now, Switzerland eyes joining a group of nations that are getting close to deep geological storage with the new facility.
This resulted in Germany being upset. Soon after the announcement of the Swiss government, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment condemned Bern’s decision to create the nuclear waste repository near the border with Germany.
The German government then tried to persuade Switzerland to move the facility away from its border but the Swiss government refused.
Switzerland’s government move was intended as a sweet revenge from Berlin in the wake of the shutting down of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Because after Berlin suddenly cancelled the project due to Western sanctions, the Swiss-based firm which was supposed to create the pipeline from Russia to Germany was compelled to declare bankruptcy. The company lost billions due to Germany’s decision.
Reversing its stance
In the case of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula also, Switzerland turned down the request of the US and EU to impose sanctions on Moscow. However, later it abandoned its neutral policy and participated in the nefarious agenda of the EU, which agitated Russia.
Switzerland then realised that before the implications of its mistakes destroy its economic prosperity, political stability and diplomatic interests, it must change its stance on the Russia-Ukraine war. Hence, it decided to refuse to provide arms to Zelensky.
Bern is a witness to the fact that the weapons given by the West were being used in the systematic violations of human rights by Ukraine, the same Ukraine which called for the prosecution of Putin in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for human rights abuses. Unlike Biden, Leyen and Macron, Bern strictly decided to steer clear from the well-woven misinformation campaign and barbaric assault of the West.
Switzerland has not let itself get exploited by the manipulative whims and wishes of the comedian in Kyiv who believes photo ops can change the outcome of the war.
Moreover, in a recent poll conducted in Switzerland, two-thirds of the Swiss population is opposing the US-led NATO. And also most of them want a Defense Union which is basically all of Europe minus the US.
Read more: An energy-secured Germany blames US for Nord Stream sabotage for the first time
Therefore, these actions of Switzerland clearly demonstrate that the country is not ready to accept the hegemony of the US and European Union. Time and again, Bern, which is a politically neutral country, has asserted that it will not cave into the pressure of Biden and Leyen and will continue to uphold the rule of law in geopolitics.
These actions are proof that there are countries like Switzerland which do not want to get embroiled in the war between Zelensky and Putin. Switzerland has shown that it respects the territorial integrity and political sovereignty of Russia and does not want to get involved directly in the war. Bern will continue to embrace the principles of neutrality and non-aggression in its foreign policy for a long time to come.
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