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Media: Switzerland looks to join European air defense initiative

by Martin Fornusek July 4, 2023 4:03 PM 2 min read
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Switzerland wants to join the European Sky Shield Initiative, which was founded in reaction to Russian aggression in Ukraine, Swiss broadcaster SRF cited the Swiss Defense Ministry on July 4.

According to SRF, the ministry said that this move does not violate the country's neutrality policy. The participation should involve mainly coordination of procurement and maintenance of air defenses on a European level, thus decreasing the costs, the outlet wrote.

"Joint air defense training is also under discussion," SRF cited the ministry.

The Germany-spearheaded air defense initiative was launched in October 2022 and encompasses 17 European NATO countries. It was established in reaction to massive Russian air strikes against Ukraine.

Euractiv reported on July 3 that Austria, a non-NATO member just like Switzerland, seeks to join the initiative due to the changes in the security environment after Russia's invasion.

Vienna's move prompted criticism from the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) on accounts that it violates the country's long-standing neutrality.

According to SRF, a similar situation may arise in Switzerland. The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) has steadily opposed any attempts by the country to develop military cooperation with Europe and NATO, arguing with the country's historical neutrality policy.

This geopolitical stance is also behind Switzerland's decision not to provide military aid to Ukraine, including through re-exports. On June 28, the Swiss parliament blocked the supply of 96 older Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine through Germany, again citing adherence to neutrality.

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