Spain banned from re-exporting Swiss weapons to Ukraine

by Lorraine Williamson
Swiss weapons
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The Swiss State Secretariat for the Economy (Seco) “has rejected Spain’s weapons request dated 16 January 2023 regarding the re-export to Ukraine of two 35mm anti-aircraft guns originating in Switzerland,” spokesman Fabian Maienfisch told AFP. 

Swiss neutrality 

Switzerland had already rejected two German and one Danish request for the transfer of war material to Kyiv recently. When war material was exported, the States signed a declaration of non-re-export with Switzerland.

The Federal War Materials Act states Swiss weapons exports must be denied under certain criteria. One such criteria is if the destination country is involved in an international armed conflict. Russia and Ukraine are involved in such a conflict. 

As with the applications from Germany and Denmark, that from Spain was assessed according to the same criteria. “Switzerland has therefore responded negatively to this request by referring to the principle of equal treatment” provided for in the law on neutrality and the law on war material. Germany’s request was for Swiss-made ammunition for armoured air defence. Denmark’s request concerned 22 Piranha III armoured vehicles produced in Switzerland. 

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In June 2022, the Swiss government had considered the supply of war material in the form of mounting elements or spare parts to European arms companies “possible”, even if the manufactured war material is likely to be sent to Ukraine. 

The debate on neutrality has been revived in Switzerland by the government’s decision to approve all sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia since February 24, 2022, and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Switzerland is considering easing re-exports 

Various initiatives are however, underway in parliament to relax the rules on the re-export of war material. But a decision is not expected for several months. In any case, the relaxation envisaged in Parliament is welcomed by the Swiss weapons industry. Otherwise, it fears that certain states will decide to buy elsewhere. 


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