Switzerland announced late on Monday that it would put aside its famed neutrality in international matters and adopt sanctions punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Swiss Federal President Ignazio Cassis told the press that his country’s sanctions will be in line with those that have already been passed by the European Union.
“The Swiss Federal Council has decided today to fully adopt EU sanctions,” Cassis said at a news briefing, adding “It is an unparalleled action of Switzerland, who has always stayed neutral before.”
“Russia’s attack is an attack on freedom, an attack on democracy, an attack on the civil population, and an attack on the institutions of a free country. This cannot be accepted regarding international law, this cannot be accepted politically, and this cannot be accepted morally,” Cassis added.
The unprecedented move, coming from a nation which usually contents itself with counting its money in its secret banking accounts while remaining above the fray of international politics, came as a pleasant surprise to all those hoping that the raft of financial sanctions passed by the EU, the US and other countries will prompt Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine.
In an address after an extraordinary meeting of the Swiss Federal Council, Cassis stated “in these dark days,” his country stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, adding that he hoped sanctions will encourage the Kremlin to “change its mind.
The Swiss leader explained this abrupt change of the historical neutrality of his country by saying “To play into the hands of an aggressor is not neutral. Having signed the Geneva convention of human rights, we are bound to humanitarian order.
“Other democracies shall be able to rely on Switzerland; those standing for international law shall be able to rely on Switzerland; states that uphold human rights shall be able to rely on Switzerland.”
As part of the measures, Switzerland will freeze the assets of the “listed persons” now targeted by nations around the globe who are protesting Russian aggression. It will also entry ban entry into Switzerland for those named in the EU’s sanctions, according to CNN.
Cassis also pointed out that Switzerland was closing its airspace to all flights from Russia, including private jets, with the exception of humanitarian flights, search flights and emergency situations, just as has been done with the entire EU and Canada.
Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told the press that the entry ban will impact “oligarchs of Russian or Ukrainian nationality who are particularly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“These are five persons with strong economic connections into Switzerland,” Keller-Sutter pointed out; however, because of what she stated were privacy reasons, she would not name the oligarchs in question.