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Swiss block German request to re-export tank ammunition to Ukraine

Federal Act on War Materiel forbids Switzerland from sending ammunition into conflict zones. Keystone / Maria Senovilla

The Swiss government has confirmed that it vetoed the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used in Gepard anti-aircraft tanks that Germany plans to send to Ukraine. Switzerland has cited its policy of neutrality, which forbids it from sending war materiel to conflict zones.

This content was published on April 27, 2022 - 10:18
Reuters/jdp

On Tuesday the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirmed a report by Swiss public broadcaster, SRF, that it had blocked Germany from sending munitions used in the Gepard tank to Ukraine. This comes after Germany announced on Tuesday that, following weeks of pressure, it would ship heavy weapons including 50 Gepard armoured vehiclesExternal link to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks. Over the weekend, there had been reports that the Swiss vetoed Germany's request to re-export ammunition but it wasn't confirmed until Tuesday, exactly which ammunition.

SECO received two requests from Germany to send ammunition to Ukraine. This included a 35mm ammunition for the Gepard tank as well as a 12.7mm ammunition, according to a SECO response to Reuters. This ammunition was manufactured by what was Oerlikon-Bührle, an industrial firm based in Switzerland. The company now belongs to the Germany-based Rheinmetall group.

“Both inquiries by Germany as to whether the ammunition received from Switzerland may be transferred to Ukraine were answered in the negative with reference to Swiss neutrality and the mandatory rejection criteria of Swiss war materiel legislation,” SECO said. According to SRF reports, following the Swiss veto it is unclear which ammunition Germany will send to Ukraine with the Gepards.

Neutrality

Switzerland decided to adopt European Union economic sanctions designed to punish Russia for invading Ukraine, but it has said its neutrality does not permit providing arms for use in conflict zones.

Switzerland generally requires recipient countries to declare they will not re-export war materiel without permission.

Last month it rejected Poland’s request for arms to help neighbouring Ukraine.

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