Prospects are dim for peace in Ukraine, says Swiss foreign minister

Cassis, who is attending the Munich Security Conference this weekend, said there was currently no room for negotiation in the Ukraine war. Keystone / Anna Szilagyi

Ignazio Cassis, who is attending the Munich Security Conference this weekend, sees no path to détente or peace talks in the short- to mid-term for the war in Ukraine.

This content was published on February 18, 2023 minutes

"At the moment, I have the feeling there’s no room for negotiations,” Cassis told Swiss public television SRF following bilateral meetings in the German city. “We are facing a military escalation. You can really feel that here."

The foreign affairs minister, who is representing the Alpine country in Munich together with Defence Minister Viola Amherd, also said that Switzerland was not in a position to act as a mediator in the conflict.

Russia, he explained, has lobbed Switzerland into the Western camp for adopting European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. For this reason, it was no longer perceived as “sufficiently neutral” by the Russians to be a mediator. 

The subject of Swiss neutrality came up in discussions in Munich, Cassis added, even if he “didn’t have to defend or promote” it. With the war in Ukraine, the country's traditional neutrality has come under heavy scrutiny, not only for its position on sanctions, but also for its decision to ban the re-export of Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine.

Hundreds of political leaders, military officials and diplomats are in Munich for the annual European security gathering, taking place just days before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an appearance by video link, urging allies to speed up delivery of weapons to counter a major new offensive. According to Cassis, Zelensky struck a small note of hope when he told delegates they would see each other again next year in Munich – after the war is over.

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