- Spain wants permission from Switzerland to transfer two anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.
- The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) has received such a request, as a Seco spokesman announced.
- The spokesman said that Seco would examine the request for two 35-millimeter anti-aircraft guns imported from Switzerland.
At the same time, he stated that it would probably not be possible for Spain to agree to the transfer of Swiss war material to Ukraine. In June 2022, the Swiss government decided not to authorize the re-export of Swiss war material to Ukraine due to the principle of equal treatment under neutrality law and the War Material Act.
Already rejected transfers
The Federal Council justified this by saying that under the War Material Act it must refuse war material exports if the country of destination is involved in an international armed conflict. Russia and Ukraine have been in such a conflict since February 2022.
Last year, Switzerland twice refused to allow war material produced in Switzerland to be passed on to Ukraine. Germany wanted to pass on tank ammunition made in Switzerland, Denmark Piranha infantry fighting vehicles. The Swiss position is internationally disputed. The Spanish defense minister recently told Spanish diplomats that she respects Switzerland’s neutrality, but Swiss legislation prevents Spain from “participating in a legitimate defense against the unjust, illegal and cruel Russian invasion” of Ukraine.
issue in Parliament
The handling of war material will soon be an issue again in the Swiss Parliament. In a motion, the Aargau FDP Councilor of States Thierry Burkart calls for the war material law to be relaxed. According to the FDP President, certain states should not have to submit a non-re-export declaration if they buy armaments in Switzerland. The exception should apply to countries that share Switzerland’s values and have rules for arms exports that are comparable to those of Switzerland.
The motion was put on the agenda in the responsible committee of the Council of States at the beginning of February. The Federal Council rejects the request.
In the first half of 2022, war material worth around 517 million francs was exported from Switzerland. That was more than it had been in years. The most important customer was Qatar – the desert emirate mainly received anti-aircraft systems. The lion’s share of war material exports went to around thirty countries in Europe.