No approval for the transfer of Swiss war materiel to Ukraine

Bern, 03.11.2022 – On November 3, 2022, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, responded to a letter from the German Federal Minister of Defence, Christine Lambrecht, on behalf of the Federal Council.

Guy Parmelin, Swiss Federal Councilor

The letter dated  October 21, 2022, from the German defence minister, Christine Lambrecht, concerns approximately 12400 rounds of 35mm ammunition of Swiss origin for the GEPARD anti-aircraft tank, which Germany would like to transfer to Ukraine.

In his response on behalf of the Federal Council, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin reiterated the legal situation as set out in an earlier letter dated 3 June: in its relationship between Russia and Ukraine, Switzerland applies the law of neutrality, which forms part of customary international law. Under the principle of equal treatment in neutrality law, Switzerland cannot agree to a request for the transfer of war materiel of Swiss origin to Ukraine as long as the latter is involved in an international armed conflict. Moreover, the licensing criteria defined in the War Materiel Act also exclude the supply of war materiel to countries involved in an international armed conflict.

As the legal situation remains unchanged, approval of a transfer of Swiss war materiel by Germany to Ukraine is still not possible. In his response, Federal Councillor Parmelin emphasised that Switzerland is resolutely committed to peace and security, but always in strict compliance with the law of neutrality and in keeping with its humanitarian tradition. As such, on 2 November the Federal Council adopted a Winter Aid Action Plan to support the people of Ukraine, under which Switzerland is making CHF 100 million available in addition to its existing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and the region.