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Swiss defence minister says war in Ukraine is a wake-up call

Swiss Defence Minister Viola Amherd says that in the light of the Ukraine invasion a modern air force is more important than ever. She has urged a left-wing coalition to drop its campaign against the acquisition of new fighter jets.

She told Swiss public television, RTS, that the Ukraine situation “shows how important it is to be able to defend ourselves, to protect the population and to guarantee that our airspace is not used by the parties in conflict”.

The government wants to buy 36 F-35 aircraft from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. A left-wing alliance is collecting signatures in a bid to force a nationwide vote on the issue. Viola Amherd wants the group to withdraw their initiative.

Amherd said she hoped the Russian offensive on Ukraine would demonstrate how important it is to have the right tools to defend Switzerland. “Switzerland is a neutral country, but it is also a sovereign country that cannot rely on others in the event of an attack,” she said.

As for a potential nuclear attack on the West, Amherd doubted that the Russians would use their nuclear arms. “But if they did, Switzerland would be well prepared. We have fallout shelters […] and we always have a supply of iodine tablets. But there isn’t a current and urgent threat against our country,” she stressed.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR