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Ruag CEO resigns following controversial comments on Swiss neutrality policy

Ruag swiss defence company CEO resigns
Ruag CEO, Brigitte Beck, withdrew an interview she had given with the Swiss publishing group CH Media threatening legal action. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Brigitte Beck, CEO of the Swiss state-owned defence contracting firm Ruag, is stepping down after less than a year in the position. The reason for her resignation is controversial statements made on Switzerland’s neutrality policy.

Beck has resigned as CEO for the defence contracting company, Ruag announced on Monday. Her decision to resign followed controversy regarding comments she had made in public appearances in the spring of 2023, the company said in a statement.

In April, she withdrew an interview she had given with the Swiss publishing group CH Media. During the interview she criticised the Swiss government’s stance on neutrality, specifically taking issue with the framework of sanctions against Russia. 

++Ukraine war is a windfall for Swiss arms industry

According to media reports, she prevented the publication of her interview by threatening legal action.

In May at a public podium discussion, Beck went on to say that Spain and Germany should deliver “the stuff”, meaning Swiss weapons, to Ukraine despite the fact that a transfer of Swiss weapons is prohibited by the Swiss War Materiel Act. Beck stated that it was her belief that there would not be any consequence for the countries in question.

++Swiss government rejects re-sale of old tanks to Ukraine

In response, Defence Minister Viola Amherd said on Swiss public television, SRF, that she would never give other countries recommendations on what they should do. However, in May Amherd said that the Ruag board of directors was responsible for personnel management.

The Ruag board of directors subsequently conducted an in-depth investigation, according to the statement released by the company. The result revealed neither criminal nor sanctionable offences on the part of the persons involved. However, the company stated that the controversy could ultimately only be resolved through a change of leadership.

++Despite criticism, the Swiss say they’re model enforcers of Russia sanctions

The search for a new CEO has already begun. CFO Christian Priller and Thomas Kipfer, head of the Air business unit, will jointly take over operational management in the interim.

++Dubious arms deals: case against ex-Ruag employee closed

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