The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

25 Leopard tanks leave eastern Switzerland for Germany

On Tuesday, the first Leopard 2 main battle tanks were transported from eastern Switzerland to Germany. The total of 25 tanks from Switzerland may not be transferred to Ukraine.

The Federal Armaments Office (Armasuisse) handed over the first 9 of 25 battle tanks on Tuesday morning. They were transported to Germany by rail, as the Federal Department of Civil Protection, Defense and Sport (DDPS) wrote in a press release.

On Wednesday, the next train with a further 9 tanks will roll towards Germany. The remaining 7 will be exported by road, according to the press release. The tanks will be returned to the German manufacturer Rheinmetall.

According to a statement from the DDPS, the parties have reached an agreement with the armaments company Rheinmetall Landsysteme on a purchase price for the Leopard tanks and on countertrade deals for Swiss industrial and technology companies in the same amount.

No forwarding to Ukraine

According to the press release, the 25 Leopard tanks are among the 96 tanks that were decommissioned by the Swiss army without any value retention. German Economics Minister Robert Habeck and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius requested the resale of some of these decommissioned tanks last February.

Parliament agreed on this condition that the battle tanks would not be transferred to Ukraine. The Federal Council granted the export license in November 2023. Germany guaranteed that the tanks would remain in Germany, with the NATO defense alliance or with EU partners. They are intended to fill gaps there.

Resistance came from the right

Defense Minister Viola Amherd said in parliament at the time that the sell-back was correct in terms of neutrality law and made sense in terms of neutrality policy. Switzerland was thus making a contribution to Europe's security. It was in its interest if partner countries could strengthen their defense capabilities.

The SVP voted unanimously against the export of the decommissioned tanks. There were also some no votes from the ranks of the FDP and the Center Party. The minority argued that Switzerland could not do without the tanks.

©Keystone/SDA

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