Neutral Swiss adopt EU sanctions against Russia in break with past

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis at the opening of the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Feb 28, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Neutral Switzerland will adopt European Union sanctions against Russians involved in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and freeze their assets, the government said on Monday (Feb 28) in a sharp deviation from the Alpine country's traditions.

"In view of Russia's continuing military intervention in Ukraine, the Federal Council took the decision on February 28 to adopt the packages of sanctions imposed by the EU on February 23 and 25," the government said in a statement.

Switzerland also adopted financial sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, effective immediately, it said.

"Switzerland reaffirms its solidarity with Ukraine and its people; it will be delivering relief supplies for people who have fled to Poland," the government said, renewing its offer to mediate in the dispute.

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis had said on Sunday that it was "very probable" that Switzerland would follow the EU line.

Switzerland had walked a tortuous line between showing solidarity with the West over what it calls Moscow's severe breach of international law and maintaining its traditional neutrality that it says could make it a potential mediator.

But it faced growing pressure to side clearly with the West against Moscow and adopt punitive sanctions.

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