Switzerland will not expel Russian diplomats, says president

A mass grave in front of an Orthodox church, in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv. Keystone / Roman Pilipey

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis has said that the Alpine nation will not expel Russian diplomats to sanction Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. 

This content was published on April 8, 2022 - 10:03

"The Federal Council has decided that the expulsion of diplomats is a measure that must be taken in the context of a security policy, not as a sanction for something," said Cassis in an interview with Swiss public television RTS on Thursday.

He warned that “changing the rules of the game” will “cause a lot of confusion”. Around 200 Russian diplomats were expelled from Europe 48 hours after reports of hundreds of civilian deaths in the Russian-occupied town of Bucha. Russia has firmly rejected the accusation and its ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia,claimed that “not a single civilian suffered from any kind of violence”.

Cassis also cautioned against the use of the term "war crimes" before the facts were established on what has occurred in Ukraine. He repeated that Switzerland wanted an independent international investigation to verify whether war crimes were committed. The UN Human Rights Council has just launched an international commission of enquiry to carry out this mandate.

"These are indications of war crimes," said Cassis in the RTS interviewExternal link. "They are not war crimes until a court of law says so."

On Thursday, Switzerland joined 92 other nations in voting to expel Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. This was only the second time a country has been expelled from this UN body after Libya in 2011. Russia had warned countries that a yes vote or abstention would be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties.

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