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Switzerland approves export of Leopard 2 tanks under condition they are not sent to Ukraine

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 22, 2023 12:42 PM 2 min read
Leopard 2 A4 tanks at the Swietoszow Tank Training Center in Swietoszow, Poland, on Feb. 13, 2023. (Bartek Sadowki/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Switzerland approved the transfer of 25 decommissioned Leopard 2 tanks to Germany under the condition that they must not leave EU or NATO member states, the Swiss Federal Council announced on Nov. 22.

"Germany has assured that the tanks sold will remain in Germany or with NATO or EU partners in order to close its own gaps," the Swiss Federal Council said.

The battle tanks will go to their original manufacturer, the German arms company Rheinmetall.  

According to the Swiss Federal Council, the German government sent a request in February 2023, asking the Swiss government to allow the sale to Rheinmetall and assured "that the battle tanks would not be forwarded to Ukraine."

Swiss law does not allow the delivery of Swiss weapons to combat zones, even when supplied by an intermediary country, due to its long-standing neutrality policy.  

The Swiss parliament has repeatedly voted against proposals to amend the rules regarding the re-export of Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine.

The country also blocked the transfer of Swiss-made Leopard 1 tanks from Italy to Ukraine in June.

The parliamentary elections in October resulted in the populist, right-wing Swiss People’s Party winning the most seats.

Members of the party boycotted President Volodymyr Zelensky's speech to the Swiss parliament on June 15, claiming it violated the country's tradition of neutrality.

Switzerland pledges support for creation of special tribunal for Russia’s war
Switzerland supports the creation of an international special tribunal to investigate Russia’s “crime of aggression” against Ukraine, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Nov. 16.
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