Switzerland’s new reputation


credits: Independent News

Switzerland: the country famous for its neutrality. Joining a growing number of nations standing against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland has broken its long-standing tradition and made the decision to support the nation that is under attack. 

Dating back to 1515, the Swiss have stayed neutral through centuries of conflict. The Congress of Vienna seated their unbiased reputation when Switzerland signed a declaration that confirmed their stance internationally. The country maintained this throughout both world wars, using different strategies to keep themselves safe while avoiding sides; however, Russia has tested Switzerland’s dedication to staying impartial. 

“I think it is a very big deal, given how neutral they have been, and it shows how much countries are working together to stop Russia from invading,” Joe Oburu, junior, said. 

Many Western countries have placed sanctions, which are penalties applied against a group or individual, on Russia, and Switzerland is beginning to join the efforts. After Russia took military action against Ukraine, the Swiss Federal Council decided Russians would no longer find a safe haven in Switzerland. Although not a part of the European Union, Switzerland pledged that Russian individuals and companies would face the EU sanctions while in Swiss territory. Financial intermediaries, people who serve as middlemen between two parties in transactions, have been banned against forming business relationships with a growing number of Russian individuals and companies. 

“The EU’s head diplomat, Josep Borrell, welcomed the move [to place bans] and said it was ‘good news’ that transferring money to Switzerland would no longer help Russian oligarchs,” Michael Shields and Silke Koltrowitz said in an article. 

Switzerland’s current steps of punishment towards Russia seem small compared to the lengths other countries have gone to, but they are leaving an impact. Russian private individuals have led the world in most transactions with the Alpine nation, making Switzerland a necessity for Russians to manage their wealth. 

Banks would be likely to have to deal directly with one another, adding delays and extra costs, and ultimately cutting off revenues for the Russian government,” Firstpost said in an article. 

Though their effort has not gone to the extent of some nations, these actions are still causing certain risks for the Swiss. Switzerland is still trying to maintain a role as a diplomatic go-between, a place for countries to come to when fighting, with the ability to hold international gatherings. Geneva and several other cities are major hubs for Russian commodities, with around 80 percent of their trade passing through the financial services in these places, creating an economic risk for Switzerland because of their role in Russian trade, firms, and transactions. 

“On March 16, 2022, Switzerland extended the asset freeze and entry/transit restrictions to more than 200 Russian individuals and companies. It also adopted new sanctions against Belarus and reinforced the existing ones,” White and Case, a news site, said. 

As Switzerland puts more weight on one side of the war efforts, the world watches to see if they will go any further. To stay updated, visit this ABC News site