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Switzerland blocks re-export of 96 Leopard tanks to Ukraine

by Alexander Query June 28, 2023 3:58 PM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

The transfer of 96 non-operational Leopard 1 tanks, currently in Italy and designated to be sent to Germany to be modernized and delivered to Ukraine has been blocked by Switzerland over the country's neutrality policy, according to a communiqué seen by European Pravda.

The tanks were initially built in Switzerland, but the country's law does not currently allow the delivery of Swiss weapons to combat zones, even when supplied by an intermediary country.

The National Council, the lower house of the Swiss parliament, has voted against an amendment allowing the re-export of Swiss-made weaponry to third countries, such as Ukraine, the news agency Swissinfo reported on June 2.

The discussion about the transfer continues, and several more proposals are pending in the parliament.

Members of the Council of States, the parliament's upper house, recommended easing the restrictions on arms re-exports on May 12.

The move would have opened new possibilities for re-exporting Swiss arms to Ukraine's military, but the debate keeps stalling.

In an address to Switzerland's parliament on June 15, President Volodymyr Zelensky brought up the ongoing debate in the Swiss parliament on the re-export of the Swiss weapons arsenal, reminding Ukraine's own need for military aid.

"I would like to call on you to remember one fact: We are asking for arms deliveries so that Ukrainian soil can become a territory of peace again."

After Zelensky's speech, Brigitte Häberli-Koller, the president of the parliament's upper house, said: "Even a neutral state has the right, indeed the duty, to stand up for its fundamental values ​​such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights."

Members of the right-wing Swiss People's Party left the room during the speech, saying it violates the country's tradition of neutrality.

German defense minister: NATO countries to send total of 160 tanks to Ukraine
NATO countries plan to send two battalions of German Leopard-2 battle tanks and four battalions of Leopard-1 tanks to Ukraine, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told Die Welt. kThe 160 tanks account for roughly half the 300 tanks requested by Ukraine for its counteroffensive.
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