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Switzerland clarifies rules on arms shipments to Ukraine

Switzerland ruled on Friday that shipping weapons with Swiss-made components to Ukraine does not violate the country’s centuries-old neutrality, if certain conditions are met.

“The delivery of war material in the form of assembly elements or spare parts to European armament companies will… remain possible, even if the manufactured war material is likely to be sent to Ukraine,” the Swiss government said.

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Officials further clarified that the re-export of weapons is permitted if the share of Swiss-made elements in the final product is below a certain threshold, such as 50% for countries such as Italy and Germany.

The re-export of fully Swiss-made arms and ammunition would still violate the country’s neutrality, however.

Switzerland recently rejected Denmark’s request to provide Ukraine with 22 Swiss-made Piranha III armored infantry fighting vehicles, as well as Germany’s request to give Kiev 12,400 rounds of the Swiss-made ammunition used in Gepard anti-aircraft tanks.

Western countries have been increasingly supplying Ukraine with weapons after Russia launched a military campaign against the neighboring state in late February.

The Pentagon announced this week that the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) will be sent to Ukraine for the first time. Germany similarly pledged to supply Kiev with IRIS-T air defense systems.

The Kremlin responded by accusing the West of “pouring fuel on the fire.” Russia previously said that foreign weapons systems would be treated as legitimate targets on Ukrainian soil.

Russia attacked Ukraine following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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