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Russian hackers publish internal Swiss document on tank swap

swiss tank
The Piranha armoured personnel carrier of the Swiss Armed Forces is at the centre of the leaked document. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Russian hackers have published a partly confidential federal document on a possible swap of Piranha wheeled tanks to Ukraine.

The leaked document was reported by the Tamedia newspapersExternal link on Friday. The authenticity of the document was confirmed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA.

The document reportedly concerned the language to be used when dealing with questions about the re-export of war materiel in connection with Ukraine. The document was published on the Russian hacker group Joker DPR messaging channel on the Telegram communication application on Wednesday night.

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

The internal document references possible plans for a swap of Swiss-made tanks to support Ukraine in the war against Russia. According to the document, Denmark could supply the Piranhas to a Baltic state. The latter would then pass on its own military vehicles to Ukraine. However, SECO has not received a formal application request for such swapping process, a SECO spokesperson said to Keystone-SDA.

According to SECO, the document was made available to several federal administration departments and embassies abroad. The SECO spokesperson said the contents of the leaked document were not considered to be problematic. The document version is dated as early 2023 and the information it contains is already known to the public.

However, how the document got into the hands of the hackers is currently unclear. The hackers claim they had found the document in an email from a member of the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainians had received the document from the US secret service.

++Swiss arms group wants to sell 96 unused tanks to Germany

In a statement made to the Swiss public television, SRF, the head of the security ministry, Werner Salzmann, said he considered the incident “very worrying” and that the possible swap outlined in the document bothered him. “We had always criticised that such deals via ring swaps were a violation of neutrality,” he said.

SECO has initiated an investigation. A spokesperson said the matter was being taken “very seriously”.

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