Poland wants Switzerland to confiscate Russian assets

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met in Poland on March 21, 2022. Keystone / Mateusz Marek

The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called on Switzerland to seize sanctioned Russian assets that are frozen in Swiss bank vaults.

This content was published on March 21, 2022 - 15:28

Morawiecki made this demand during a visit from Swiss President Ignazio Cassis on Monday. “The assets of Russian oligarchs in Switzerland must be confiscated. I call on the President to see to it that Switzerland tackles this topic decisively,” Morawiecki said at a press conference following talks between the leaders of both countries.

Last week, Switzerland said it would adopt a fourth wave of European Union sanctionsExternal link which now extend to hundreds of individuals and dozens of companies. The measures can stop assets from being transferred or sold but stop short of stripping away ownership rights.

Cassis responded cautiously to Morawiecki’s demand. “[Sanctioned Russians] cannot dispose of their assets. If they own companies in Switzerland, in the commodities sector or elsewhere, these companies are also covered by the measures,” Cassis said. “There have already been bankruptcies.”

Earlier this month, the Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 company, which is in charge of the gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany, released all of its staff after sanctions were imposedExternal link.

Cassis travelled to Poland to discuss European security policy, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resultant humanitarian crisis. Some 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine, with more than half of the refugees arriving in Poland.

Millions of refugees

Switzerland has earmarked a quarter of its CHF80 million ($86 million) humanitarian aid package to assisting people who have fled the war. On Friday, the government announced it had dispatched more than 500 tonnes of relief supplies to the region and sent a team of experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to both Poland and Moldova.

The Swiss delegation visited the transfer point for Switzerland's humanitarian relief supplies in Lublin and talked to Swiss experts and NGOs working in Poland.

Around 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the war, both in Ukraine and in other countries that have accepted refugees, the Swiss government estimated on FridayExternal link.

On Tuesday, Cassis will travel to Moldova to meet with President Maia Sandu to discuss how Switzerland can help the country cope with the flow of refugees.

Switzerland has received more than 11,000 Ukrainian refugees, of which 4,106 had been taken in by private households. The authorities are calling on more people to take in refugees to ease the burden on municipal accommodation.

The government has set up a special asylum unit, comprising several ministerial departments, the police, customs and army, to outline a strategy and coordinate the extraordinary refugee situation.

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