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Russia’s invasion spurs debate on how Switzerland can help Ukraine with tanks – Bloomberg

Switzerland’s Leopard 2 tank (Pz 87 Leo). Photo: Swiss Armed Forces, via
Russia’s invasion spurs debate on how Switzerland can help Ukraine with tanks – Bloomberg

After the recent German announcement of tank supplies to Ukraine, 96 mothballed Leopard 2 tanks set for decommissioning in neutral Switzerland re-emerged into the public eye last weekend. Shipping them to Ukraine is out of the question, but mainstream Swiss politicians are now calling for the Leopards to be sold for as little as one symbolic franc to Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, replacing the tanks that their governments plan to send to Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.

On 2 February, Swiss MPs were going to debate a bill gaining some traction in parliament that would allow Germany, Spain, and Denmark to ship Swiss-made ammunition to the front as well.

“War has changed the discussion in Switzerland,” says Maja Riniker, a member of parliament from the centrist and pro-business FDP party, who introduced the proposal to give away the tanks. “We cannot abandon Swiss neutrality but we need to talk about what possibilities we have to support countries which stand for the same democratic values as Switzerland.”

A national debate about helping other countries to win a war in Europe would have been almost unthinkable in Switzerland a year ago. In a recent poll, more than half the population broadly favored allowing re-exports of Swiss-made ammunition to help Ukraine’s war effort.

“We will block all efforts which violate Swiss neutrality,” Thomas Aeschi said, the party whip of the conservative SVP which is the largest single party in the Swiss parliament, promising to reject both motions.

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