Enemy of Moscow? Russia adds Switzerland to unfriendly nation list
The Russian Federation has decided to add Switzerland to its list of “unfriendly nations”, after the country imposed sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The move follows a letter from the Russian Foreign Minister, who asked the Swiss government, “Which side are you on?”
Switzerland added to Russia's unfriendly nations list
The new list, published by the Russian state-run Tass news agency, includes nations like the US, all EU countries, Canada, Australia, Japan and others. The new addition to the list means that Russian citizens and companies may only pay off debts owed to Swiss banks, international companies and individuals using Russian rubles. This applies to all transactions of over 10 million rubles per month or around 68.000 Swiss francs.
Experts say the move is to try and prop up the currency by forcing companies to use Russian money, which has seen a dramatic drop in value since western sanctions were put in place. The wider implications of Switzerland being placed on the list remain unclear, but the independent Russian news agency Interfax claimed that in future, "Anyone wishing to do business with Russia from these nations would only be able to do so with government approval,” although this hasn’t been officially confirmed.
Russia asks Switzerland: Which side are you on?
The move comes after the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent a letter to the Swiss government, asking which side the country was on. It was part of a “bombardment” of diplomatic letters sent from Moscow to European capitals, reported 20 minuten. As Switzerland joined sanctions against Russia, questions were raised in the global media as to what Switzerland’s commitment to neutrality meant.
In the press conference announcing the sanctions, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis dismissed Russian accusations of a violation of neutrality by saying, “Playing into the hands of an aggressor is not neutral.” Speaking to Blick about the allegation made by Vladimir Putin that western sanctions amounted to a declaration of war on Russia, the president said, “Switzerland is not at war with Russia.”
“Switzerland remains a neutral country,” said law professor Oliver Diggelmann, from the University of Zurich. He noted that a commitment to neutrality did not mean a commitment to inaction and that “the Swiss government recognised that not fully sanctioning such a blatant violation economically would make (Switzerland) an indirect accomplice of the aggressor."