Despite growing international pressure, Switzerland is instead destroying older air defense systems that it has decommissioned. The country claims that sending weapons to a warring party would violate its historical neutrality policy.
Switzerland has also banned other countries from sending Swiss-made weapons to the conflict. The country is famous for manufacturing high-quality small firearms.
In the 1980s, the Alpine nation purchased Rapier ground-based air defense systems from the United Kingdom, and its armed forces currently have 60 Rapier systems in operation. However, the missiles are now considered outdated, and the first series of Rapier has already been scrapped. Now, the remaining systems will be decommissioned as well. Ukraine has requested to take over the weapons because it believes they could still be useful against Russian aircraft, including drones and missile attacks, but Switzerland is saying no.
Switzerland is not the only country exercising strict neutrality in the conflict. Neighboring Austria is also officially neutral and refuses to send weapons to Ukraine. The same goes for Hungary.
In February, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave a speech on the state of the nation in which he referred to Switzerland while explaining Hungary’s stance on the war and neutrality.
“Let’s make it clear that NATO membership is crucial for Hungary. We are too far east, on the western world’s eastern edge, to leave. Of course, it would be easier if we were further away. Following the examples of Austria and Switzerland, we can toy with the idea of neutrality, but history has not given us that luxury. NATO is a defensive alliance, a military, defensive alliance, formed so that we can defend each other. That’s why we joined, and that’s why I felt the historical satisfaction of signing the accession treaty after 45 years of Soviet occupation,” he said.
Switzerland has not been at war since 1499. Neutrality has not only kept the country out of the wars that have raged in Europe – it has also allowed the Swiss to hire out mercenaries to whoever they wanted. Swiss mercenaries were known for their skill in fighting with lances and halberds, and the wars provided opportunities for good profits.
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