Switzerland to examine new German request to allow weapon re-exports to Ukraine

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ZURICH, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Germany has made another request to neutral Switzerland to allow it to re-export Swiss-made ammunition to Ukraine to be used in its war against Russia, after being rebuffed earlier this year.

A spokesman for the Swiss economic affairs department said a letter on the topic had been received from the German Ministry of Defence, adding that Economic Affairs Minister Guy Parmelin “will respond to this letter in a timely manner”. The spokesman declined to comment if Ukraine had also made representations to the Swiss government.

A spokesperson for the defence ministry in Berlin declined to comment on the letter, saying Germany was always in constructive talks with its partners. The country has supplied 30 Gepard tanks to Ukraine and some 60,000 rounds of ammunition.

In April Bern the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used by Gepard anti-aircraft tanks. The 35mm shells were originally supplied by Swiss companies to the German army decades ago, but were blocked from re-export after the Swiss government said deliveries would breach Switzerland’s neutrality law.

Spelling out its position in June, the government said that “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”.

German Defence Minister Chistine Lambrecht has written to her Swiss counterpart, Viola Amherd, asking her to revise the decision, Swiss newspaper Tages-Angzeiger reported on Thursday.

Ukraine has also appealed to Bern to allow the deliveries, the paper said.

The eight-month conflict in Ukraine has seen Switzerland edge away from its normal stance of complete non-alignment, with Bern mirroring nearly all the sanctions that the European Union imposed on Moscow.

The change has led to Russia a Swiss offer to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia and Moscow’s interests in Ukraine because it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country.

Last month Switzerland said it would temporarily halt the exchange of tax information with Russia and make it harder for Russian citizens to get visas.

(Reporting by John Revill in Zurich Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold Editing by Frances Kerry)

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