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Geopolitics

Ukraine's Wounded v. Russian Bank Accounts? Why Swiss "Neutrality" Is Pure Hypocrisy

Switzerland has rejected a NATO request to take in injured Ukrainian soldiers, arguing it would compromise its neutrality. This is an old game of masking moral cowardice by a country that has profited off the Putin regime.

Photo of Biden, Parmelin and Putin in Geneva

Switzerland's President Guy Parmelin behind President Joe Biden, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Geneva Summit in 2021

Clemens Wergin

-OpEd-

BERLIN — In recent weeks, NATO sent out a request to members and partners asking them to take in wounded Ukrainians for treatment. Its partner country Switzerland declined the request. It said it did not want to treat wounded soldiers because they might return to the war. This, they said, would endanger Switzerland's neutrality, the famous core principle of Swiss foreign policy.

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But they also don't want to take in wounded civilians for treatment. Because it is "almost impossible to distinguish civilians from soldiers," as Swiss diplomat and politician Johannes Matyassy explained.


That is a weak argument, to say the least. If it were really so difficult to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, Switzerland would no longer be allowed to accept people fleeing from crisis areas because of war or civil war. So when it comes to the reception and treatment of injured Ukrainian civilians, neutrality is just an excuse.


Photo of the Russian and Swiss flag

The flags of Russia and Switzerland are seen at a meeting of Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Switzerland's President

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS/Zuma

Moral cowardice

The Swiss decision is particularly offensive in light of the fact that the country has for decades been a favorite retreat of the oligarchs and officials who support and profit from Vladimir Putin's regime.

They saw nothing wrong with continuing to roll out the red carpet for Putin's accomplices.

They deposit their money in Swiss numbered bank accounts, buy luxurious Swiss chalets and send their children to Swiss private schools. For example, Putin's mistress, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, lived in Switzerland for years with her children who were believed to be fathered by the Russian president.

Like many EU countries, Switzerland saw nothing wrong with continuing to roll out the red carpet for Putin's accomplices, even after Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine started in 2014. Unlike many EU members, however, Switzerland now seems to have problems unequivocally supporting a country that is being subjected to a cruel war of aggression that violates international law, aims to exterminate the Ukrainian nation, and has genocidal features.

To reject the treatment of injured Ukrainians with a dubious reference to international law, as Switzerland is doing, is particularly disgraceful.

The message from this decision is clear. For decades, Switzerland has had no problem getting involved with the perpetrators of the Putin regime, taking their money and harboring them. But it would rather not treat the victims of Moscow's criminal regime in its own country.

What is sold as neutrality is, in fact, just moral cowardice.

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