Swiss diplomat: ‘If you want to hurt Russia, you have to be prepared to suffer’

A Gazprom office in St. Petersburg. Yves Rossier says if Western countries want to turn off Putin's money taps, they will have to give up on oil and gas completely. Keystone / Anatoly Maltsev

Yves Rossier, the former Swiss ambassador to Moscow, squarely blames Russia for the war in Ukraine, but he says the West and Ukraine made mistakes in the run-up to the war.

This content was published on July 4, 2022 minutes

“The blame for the war lies solely with Russia, that’s clear,” Rossier said in an interviewExternal link on Monday with newspapers of the CH-Media Group. “However, in the past Russia had wanted to join both NATO and the EU. Those were missed opportunities.”

There had been the possibility of Europe as a third superpower, he said, “but only with Russia”.

He also pointed to the Western view of the 2014 Maidan protests in Ukraine. “Here the West’s reading is really wrong,” Rossier said. It was not an uprising against autocrats but almost a civil war, he explained. At the time, Ukraine had seen itself forced to choose between the West and Russia, he said. “This is the kind of thing that destroys a country.”

A neutral position would have been more natural for Ukraine, he believed. “Ukraine is also partly responsible for the failure to implement the Minsk agreements after the annexation of Crimea [in 2014]. But all this does not justify an attack on another country.”


“If you want to hurt Russia, you have to be prepared to suffer,” he said, regarding the sanctions imposed on Russia.

“If you want to cut off money to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, you will have to do without oil and gas completely. What’s more, sanctions never lead to a change in a country’s foreign policy,” he said, citing Iran and North Korea as examples.

Rossier described the mood in Moscow, which he visited most recently in early June, as “dejected, sombre. I didn't sense any bellicose patriotism”.

He said the Russian public could inform themselves about the invasion of Ukraine despite Kremlin propaganda. “I was told that we shouldn’t believe everything that’s reported in the West either. And I think that’s true.”

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