Younger Swiss less likely to support re-export of arms to Ukraine

Switzerland has rejected requests from Germany, Denmark and more recently Spain to re-export Swiss-made war materiel to Ukraine. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

The younger generation is generally more critical of the Swiss government’s stance on the war than people over 55, a new survey shows.

This content was published on February 19, 2023 minutes

Nearly half (49%) of people aged 18-35 believe Switzerland should be more neutral on the war in Ukraine, reveals a survey by Sotomo publishedExternal link in the Sonntagsblick newspaper. That's higher than for all age groups combined (41%).

Over a third of young people (35%) also say the country is violating the principle of neutrality by adopting European Union sanctions against Russia. By contrast, just 22% of people over 55 share this opinion. In fact, around half of people in this age group say Switzerland should do more to support Ukraine.

Sotomo’s director, Michael Hermann, said the experience of the Cold War may explain why the older generation see things differently: “The Soviet Union presented an enemy image back then,” he told Sonntagsblick, adding that older people also tend to consume traditional media, the majority of which take a more pro-Ukraine position. Younger people, on the other hand, are more likely to get their news on social media, where they are exposed to a broader of range of views, including pro-Russia ones.

Explaining the ban on re-exporting Swiss ammunition

The divide between generations can also be seen on the issue of re-exporting Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine: fewer young people (32%) support the idea compared to those over 55 (54%). Switzerland has rejected requests from Germany, Denmark and more recently Spain to re-export Swiss-made war materiel to Ukraine.

At the Munich Security Conference this weekend, Defence Minister Viola Amherd had to explain to her European counterparts that Switzerland’s neutrality prevented it from approving any re-export, she told Le Temps newspaper. A proposed amendment to the War Materiel Act that would allow a two-year exemption on the ban on re-exports for Ukraine is currently before parliament.

The Sotomo survey published on Sunday is based on responses given online by close to 16,000 people between February 13-16.

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