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Neutral Switzerland may jail its national for 3 years over fighting for Ukraine

Jona Neidhart, a Swiss who fought for Ukraine for two years, returned to Switzerland and surrendered, facing up to three years in prison for foreign military service.
neutral switzerland may jail its national 3 years over fighting ukraine swiss jona neidhart from zürich side against russians credit blick 19438690-v6-so-ldner2-bef37a1c-d
Swiss national Jona Neidhart from Zürich fighting on the side of Ukraine against the Russians. Credit: Blick.
Neutral Switzerland may jail its national for 3 years over fighting for Ukraine

Jona Neidhart, a 36-year-old Swiss man, has returned from spending two years fighting as a machine-gunner for the Ukrainian army against Russian forces. Upon his arrival in Switzerland, Neidhart voluntarily surrendered to authorities in Bern, fully aware that his actions violated Swiss law prohibiting military service for foreign powers, Blick reported.

Switzerland refuses to supply weapons to Ukraine due to its commitment to military neutrality, a cornerstone of its foreign policy, aimed at avoiding involvement in foreign conflicts. Despite this stance, Switzerland supports EU sanctions against Russia and provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Neidhart, a former student who aspired to become a teacher from Zürich, made the decision to join the Ukrainian forces shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion in March 2022. As a devout Christian, he says he felt compelled to take action against the aggression. During his time on the frontlines, Neidhart participated in some of the fiercest battles, including the counteroffensives near Kharkiv and Kupiansk, as well as the intense fighting around Donetsk’s Bakhmut.

Despite acknowledging the possibility of facing up to three years in prison, Neidhart expressed no regrets about his decision to fight for Ukraine, stating,

“I have no remorse for the Russians who fell by my hand. They should not have invaded the country. I was merely doing my job.”

Neidhart says he has no fear of going to prison and his actions were driven by his belief in defending democracy and his conviction that Ukraine’s victory is crucial for the West.

The timing of Neidhart’s surrender on 14 June was intentional, coinciding with the ongoing Ukraine Peace Conference at Bürgenstock. He criticized the conference as a “joke.”

“This conference is a joke,” Neidhart told Blick. “If you really want to help Ukraine, you have to enable it to defeat the Russians militarily. You have to break the Russians first before you negotiate with them, not the other way around.”

Jona Neidhart was temporarily released late on June 14 evening around nine hours after his arrest, as there is no risk of flight or suspicion in Neidhart’s case, according to Blick.

I am not allowed to leave Switzerland until the start of my trial,” Neidhart told Blick on 15 June afternoon on the fringes of a pro-Ukraine demonstration in Lucerne.

According to Blick, earlier the Swiss military justice system opened 11 investigations against Swiss citizens involved in the Russo-Ukrainian war since its outset.

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