The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Switzerland responds to missile in Poland

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 16 November 2022

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis expressed concern late Tuesday evening over news that an alleged Russian missile exploded in Poland, as the country is a member state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Switzerland responds to missile in Poland

President Cassis shakes hands with Ukrainian President Zelensky in October. Switzerland’s continued support of Ukraine signals a step away from neutrality, according to Russian officials (Photo: Ignazio Cassis’ Twitter account).

World leaders respond

“I’m very concerned about the latest developments in Poland and Ukraine,” Cassis tweeted. “I call for the utmost restraint so that the investigation can determine the causes and responsibilities. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and with all those affected by the attacks.”

While it remains uncertain whether the missile was intended for the Polish village of Przedwodow (just four miles over the border from Ukraine), it happened at the same time Russia launched its largest missile attack to date on Ukrainian cities. When the missile landed it made a crater on Polish territory and killed two people. Shortly after world leaders held an emergency meeting and called for an investigation into the attack.

The missile appears to be Russian-made, but it is “unlikely” that it was launched from Russian territory, U.S. President Joe Biden announced early Wednesday morning. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it is not important where the missile came from, as it “would not have happened without Russia’s horrific missile attacks against Ukraine.”

Switzerland responds to missile in Poland

Germany and other nations have donated tanks that require ammunition manufactured in Switzerland, but the nation will not send the ammo to Germany citing its War Materials Act.

Sanctions on Switzerland

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it was sanctioning several Swiss nationals and businesses for allegedly participating in a “transnational network procuring technology that supports the Russian military-industrial complex.”

The sanctions affect 14 individuals and 28 organizations that are linked to groups and businesses that support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Treasury Department said it had identified a “global network of financial facilitators, enablers, and others associated with two key Kremlin-linked elites whose fortunes are intertwined with the West.” Those elites appear to be Russian oligarchs Suleiman Kerimov and Murat Aliev.

The U.S. has sanctioned Swiss national Alexander-Walter Studhalter for being a “key player in Kerimov’s financial network” and purportedly laundering “significant amounts of money on Kerimov’s behalf.” Studhalter is the chairman and owner of the Swiss International Advisory Group AG. Two of Studhalter’s adult children and eight companies linked to Studhalter have also been sanctioned. Kerimov’s nephew, who lives in Switzerland, and another Swiss company were named as being part of the oligarch’s ring.

Swiss national Inga Rettich, manager of the Swiss International Advisory Group, is sanctioned for her ties to both Studhalter and Aliev. Swiss holding company Milur and two of its executives have been sanctioned as the company is believed to be a front for businesses that support Russian military technology and research. Another two Swiss companies are being sanctioned for allegedly holding assets belonging to sanctioned Russian business giant Andrey Guryev.

Switzerland responds to missile in Poland

The President of the Pro Schweiz/Pro Suisse movement Stephan Rietiker has argued that Switzerland has already stepped away from its traditional neutrality by enacting sanctions against Russia.

Not doing ‘enough’

The U.S. sanctions list is the latest call from outsiders for historically neutral Switzerland to do more to hinder Russia’s efforts. Left-wing Swiss politicians say the nation could do more – especially when it comes to Switzerland’s War Materials Act, which prevents the nation from exporting Swiss-made weapons and ammunition to countries that will then send it on to warring nations. Both Germany and Poland have called on the nation to change the War Materials Act, as Swiss-made ammunition is badly needed for Ukrainian tanks. German officials last month pleaded with Swiss officials to send ammunition so that Ukraine could protect its grain exports to African nations which are on the brink of famine.

Meanwhile, right-wing Swiss politicians say Switzerland has already done too much and compromised its neutrality. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Switzerland has followed the EU in sanctioning Russian individuals and businesses. U.S. ambassador to Bern, Scott Miller, even praised Switzerland for freezing assets and blocking Russian funds.

As a direct response to how Switzerland has handled the Russo-Ukrainian war, the conservative Swiss People’s Party is collecting signatures for a voter referendum to redefine the country’s neutrality in the Swiss constitution. Under the “neutrality initiative,” Switzerland would not be allowed to join any military or defense alliance, including taking any “non-military coercive measures” such as sanctions against warring nations.

How Switzerland will walk the fine line of neutrality remains to be seen as the war in Ukraine intensifies.

This article may be freely shared and re-printed, provided that it prominently links back to the original article.

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