Is Switzerland Abandoning Neutrality?

Since February 2022, Switzerland has imposed economic sanctions on the Russian Federation. Senior Swiss politicians have also expressed support for Ukraine with the President of Switzerland, Alan Berset travelling to Kyiv to meet President Zelenksy in November 2023. The apparent Swiss favour towards Ukraine has encouraged international media to call into question if Switzerland will abandon neutrality in the wake of the Russian invasion. 

Despite providing political and economic support, Switzerland has fallen short of providing military aid to Ukraine. In June 2023, Switzerland upheld the 1996 Federal Act on War Material by denying Germany from re-exporting Swiss-made Leopard 1 main battle tanks to Ukraine. The Swiss legal definition of neutrality only requires that the nation does not favour one side militarily. Nonetheless, the war in Ukraine has encouraged the Swiss to reassess the value of the neutrality dividend in an increasingly unstable European security environment. 

Key Judgement 1. It is almost certain that Switzerland will not abandon military neutrality unless directly attacked by Russia in the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 2. It is likely that the Russo-Ukrainian war will accelerate Swiss efforts to increase interoperability with NATO forces over the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 3. It is likely Switzerland’s sanctions on Russia will inhibit Swiss efforts to mediate future peace talks between Russia and Ukraine over the next 12 months.

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