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Swiss body proposes removing barriers to re-export arms to Ukraine

Ukrainian mourner
Mourners at a funeral in Dnipro, Ukraine, on January 17. At least 44 people were killed when a Russian missile hit a nine-storey building Keystone / Artem Baidala

A Swiss parliamentary committee has proposed waiving a controversial re-export ban that prevents ammunition it manufactures from being re-exported from another country to Ukraine.

The recommendation passed on Tuesday with 14 in favour and 11 against and will require later approval from parliament.

“The majority of the committee deems that Switzerland should make a contribution to European security, which includes providing more aid to Ukraine,” the House of Representative’s Security Policy Committee said in a press release.

Switzerland has previously rejected appeals from Germany to allow it to re-export Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine, saying such a move would violate its neutrality. On January 11 Spain said Switzerland was refusing to allow it to re-export war materiel to Ukraine. But pressure has been rising for Bern to review its policies, including at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum (WEF) it hosted in Davos last week.

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“We understand Switzerland and its neutrality, but at the moment, when it comes to common values, one cannot be neutral,” said the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.

The committee added in the statement that its proposals did not violate Swiss neutrality rules since the arms would go via another country and not directly to a conflict zone.

Last week Interior Minister Alain Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, insisted that the law of neutrality prohibited not only the export but also the re-export of Swiss arms. Berset added that the clause was a part of the contracts signed with partner countries.

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