Bloomberg: Switzerland wants to ease arms export rules, but will keep ban on Ukraine

Oleksandra Opanasenko

The Swiss government wants to bypass the countryʼs strict neutrality to allow more arms exports. At the same time, the country is not ready to lift the ban on arms deliveries to Ukraine.

Bloomberg writes about it.

Switzerland bans arms sales to countries at war unless they are fighting under a UN mandate. Because of this, Swiss arms manufacturers lost a lot of income amid the global "defense boom". So, sales abroad in 2023 fell by 27% to €709 million.

The Cabinet has now proposed lifting export restrictions in "exceptional circumstances" for a limited time if it is in the "interests of foreign policy or national security". Lawmakers demanded more flexibility to support the Swiss arms industry, which plays a key role in the countryʼs tradition of neutrality and self-defense.

Almost three quarters of Swiss arms exports go to Europe. The biggest buyer is Germany — in 2023, weapons worth almost €173 million were bought there.

The Swiss government has already stated that it will not use this exception to allow arms shipments to Ukraine. Switzerland also banned Germany, Spain and Denmark from sending Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine.

  • Switzerland has the oldest policy of neutrality in the world, dating back to the early 19th century. The country is not a member of NATO and the European Union, but closely cooperates with them. Switzerland also began to support UN economic sanctions even before joining the organization.