Switzerland has partially evacuated its embassy in Kyiv as Russian forces close in on the Ukrainian capital.
This means that only six or seven staff remain at the embassy, the minimum for it to function, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said on Friday. In the build-up to the attack, families of Swiss embassy personnel were evacuatedExternal link in anticipation of hostilities.
“We will not let the people of Ukraine down,” said Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.
Swiss nationals caught in Ukraine have also been advised to use a foreign ministry helplineExternal link if they need assistance.
The latest withdrawal of embassy staff follows a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on Thursday, which has resulted in condemnation from most nations, including SwitzerlandExternal link.
Fighting has been raging in several areas of the country for more than 24 hours and Russian forces are said to have entered Kyiv. Reports of casualties vary and are unconfirmed. But the United Nations says that at least 25 civilians have been killed and 102 injured by air strikes in the country.
Whilst calling on Russia stop its invasion and withdraw combatants, neutral Switzerland has not imposed its own sanctionsExternal link on Russia. It is instead supporting European Union sanctions to ensure that Switzerland cannot be used to circumvent the measures.
However, several political parties are putting pressure on the government to toughen its stance towards Russia. This includes the centre-left Social Democrats who on Friday presented a petition, signed by 20,000 people, demanding that Switzerland impose its own sanctions.
Also on Friday, Swiss food producer Nestlé said it has closed down all of its factories, logistics operations and warehouses in Ukraine where it employs 5,000 people.
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