Neutral Swiss spell out rules for re-export of arms

Ukrainian troops move back from the front line, near the city of Slovyansk, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, on June 1, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (REUTERS) - Switzerland reiterated on Friday (June 3) it would not as a neutral country allow the re-export of Swiss arms to conflict zones but this did not cover some Swiss-manufactured parts that other countries may use to make weapons.

Pressure has mounted on Switzerland to take a more active role in helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian invaders.

The Bern government has vetoed Denmark's request to send Swiss-made armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine, blocked re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used in anti-aircraft tanks that Germany is sending to Ukraine, and rejected Poland's request for arms to help its neighbour resist Russia.

"Based on the export criteria described in the War Materiel Act and the principle of equal treatment under the law of neutrality, Switzerland cannot approve requests to transfer Swiss-produced war materiel to Ukraine. However, deliveries of war materiel supplies in the form of individual parts or assembly packages can still be made to European defence companies, even if these parts or packages will be used to produce war materiel abroad that could later be transferred to Ukraine," the government said.

It did allow two requests by Swiss companies to export individual parts and assembly packages to defence companies in Germany and Italy. One concerned components for hand-held anti-tank weapons, the other for anti-aircraft weapons components.

"It has generally been the Federal Council's practice to approve the export of individual parts and assembly packages if their share in the end product's value remains below a certain threshold (less than 50 per cent in the case of Italy or Germany). The Federal Council has decided to continue this practice. Exports of this kind are compatible with the law of neutrality," it said.

Switzerland's defence procurement office had earlier said it had given the go-ahead for Germany to freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks previously sold back to defence group Rheinmetall.

"Germany can freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks already sold back to the Rheinmetall company twelve years ago, as there are no longer any requirements here," the procurement office said.

"Mothballed Leopard 2 tanks will not be passed on to Poland; this would require a decommissioning and thus a decision by parliament," it added.

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