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Opinion: Switzerland is part of the Western bloc and no longer a neutral state

By Thomas Röper*

(Opinion) Although Switzerland continues to consider itself a neutral state, it is no longer so. In Switzerland, too, strong transatlantic forces have gained the upper hand and made the country, in effect, part of the Western bloc.

Switzerland has long been a neutral country, which has given it many advantages in history. It successfully stayed out of both world wars and even benefited from them.

The alpine country’s neutrality has made it a venue for difficult international negotiations, most recently, the Putin-Biden summit in the summer of 2021.

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And Switzerland has been the home base for many international organizations because of its reputation as a neutral mediator, or at least a neutral host, of difficult negotiations.

In recent years, Switzerland’s neutrality has increasingly eroded.

Welcome to the new Swiss reality. (Photo internet reproduction)
Welcome to the new Swiss reality. (Photo internet reproduction)

The Swiss army basically meets NATO standards, and Switzerland has become so tied to at least the EU through treaties that there could really be no question of neutrality anymore.

The leading Swiss media, from the Neue Züricher Zeitung to the tabloid Blick, have long since become drummers in the orchestra of the transatlantic propaganda machine.

Switzerland used to remain neutral in international conflicts – and even in the Cold War – but today, things are different.

Switzerland has joined the EU’s Russia sanctions, which came about primarily as a result of U.S. pressure and were planned long before Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, which now makes Switzerland another vassal of the United States.

Now Switzerland has also joined the EU’s eighth sanctions package.

I will translate here two messages from the Russian news agency TASS about it.

The first message (only available if your country does not block Russian websites) is about the new EU sanctions that Switzerland has joined, and the second message (only available if your country does not block Russian websites) shows how satisfied the USA is with Switzerland’s new role as a US vassal.

FIRST MESSAGE

Switzerland has followed the EU and adopted the eighth package of sanctions against Russia.

The Federal Council’s decision took into account, among other things, “an arms embargo that will be partially extended to Ukraine due to Swiss neutrality.”

Switzerland has adopted the eighth package of sanctions against Russia in connection with the military operation in Ukraine after the EU.

The Swiss government, the Federal Council, on Wednesday announced.

“On Nov. 23, the Federal Council adopted further sanctions against Russia. It thus joined the latest measures approved by the EU under the eighth sanctions package,” the statement said.

Bern recalled that the EU adopted “a series of measures against Russia” on Oct. 6.

The Swiss government, which is not an EU member, decided on Nov. 23 to “adopt the measures of the eighth sanctions package, including the legal basis for imposing a price cap on Russian crude oil and oil products,” as well as “restrictions on certain steel products” and goods destined for the aerospace industry.

Several services provided to the Russian government and businesses, including IT, will also be banned.

In addition, in its decision on the eighth anti-Russian sanctions package, the Federal Council “provided for an arms embargo, which will be partially extended to Ukraine due to Swiss neutrality.”

Major Swiss media have degenerated into propaganda tools of the US. (Photo internet reproduction)
Major Swiss media have become propaganda tools of the US. (Photo internet reproduction)

Until now, the ban on the supply of arms to the Russian Federation has been regulated by Switzerland “largely based on existing legislation on the control of military material and goods,” Bern explained.

Now, however, the arms embargo against Russia is directly enshrined in a government decree related to the situation in Ukraine.

The government also said it had decided to adjust its earlier decree on trade in fertilizers.

This will allow purchasing certain types of fertilizers, provided that this product is destined for third countries.”

“This decision is based on the fact that Switzerland attaches particular importance to the global trade in fertilizers,” the Federal Council said.

Switzerland has already supported all other EU sanctions packages against Russia, which were promulgated in connection with Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

The Russian government in March adopted a list of hostile foreign states and territories to Russia, its businesses, and its citizens.

The Swiss Confederation is included in that list.

SECOND MESSAGE

The U.S. Ambassador to Bern, Scott Miller, has praised the Swiss government, the Federal Council, for the swift adoption of sanctions against Russia in connection with the military operation in Ukraine, announced in February.

The Swiss Parliament no longer manages to keep the seven-member government (Federal Council) under control. (Photo internet reproduction)
The Swiss Parliament no longer manages to keep the seven-member government (Federal Council) under control. (Photo internet reproduction)

In an interview with the RTS television channel on Thursday, he said that the Swiss government did not originally intend to impose comprehensive anti-Russian sanctions but wanted to limit itself to the measures it adopted after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014.

“I admire the speed with which the Federal Council recognized that it was necessary to adopt the sanctions in full,” RTS quoted Miller as saying on its website.

The U.S. ambassador, who took office in Bern on Jan. 8 of this year, said in the interview that when he arrived in Switzerland, he briefed members of the Swiss government and others on U.S. intelligence information that Russia would conduct an operation in Ukraine.

“I told them that we intend to impose a series of sanctions that are unprecedented in scope and scale,” the diplomat said.

Initially, the Federal Council assumed that it would follow the same policy as after the events in Crimea in 2014 when Bern took “measures to prevent the circumvention of sanctions” but did not impose full sanctions, he continued.

“I think they [the Swiss government] finally heard the Swiss people,” Miller said.

The ambassador said he was present with the Ukrainian ambassador at the Federal Palace, the Swiss government, and the parliament seat when Switzerland took the decision to impose sanctions on Russia.

“Being present at the Federal Palace when these resolutions were adopted in the presence of my Ukrainian counterpart will remain one of my fondest memories of my current job as ambassador,” the head of the U.S. diplomatic mission said.

Commenting on Switzerland’s refusal to supply arms to Kyiv and, in particular, its refusal to allow Germany to re-export Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine, Miller said, “I think the Swiss government will discuss with its arms industry about its future because countries that buy ammunition don’t want to have control over their ammunition in case of conflict.”

On Nov. 3, the Swiss government rejected Germany’s request to re-export ammunition for Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.

Bern cited Switzerland’s neutral status as an argument.

SANCTIONS

Switzerland, which has neutral status and is not a member of the EU, is overall following in the EU’s sanctions policy rut.

On Feb. 28, 2022, Bern joined the EU sanctions against Moscow, which were promulgated in connection with the military operation in Ukraine.

Since then, Switzerland has implemented all eight packages of anti-Russian sanctions.

The restrictive decree regarding Ukraine’s events following the country’s coup was originally adopted in Bern on April 2, 2014.

Since then, the list of Swiss restrictions against Russia has been expanded several times.

Bern, however, avoided calling its steps sanctions until Feb. 28, 2022: Government documents said they were “measures to prevent circumvention of international sanctions related to the situation in Ukraine.”

In March of this year, the Russian government adopted a list of foreign states and territories that commit acts unfriendly to Russia, its businesses, and its citizens.

The Swiss Confederation is included in this list.

* Thomas Röper, born in 1971, has held executive and supervisory board positions as an expert on Eastern Europe in financial services companies in Eastern Europe and Russia. His media-critical work focuses on the (media) image of Russia in Germany, criticism of Western media reporting in general, and the topics of (geo)politics and economics. He has lived in Russia for over 15 years and speaks fluent Russian. Today he lives in his adopted home of St. Petersburg.

This post was published first here.

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