Switzerland Imposes Sanctions on Russia, Breaks History of Neutrality


New York Post


Sophia Cooper, Staff Writer

   Switzerland is synonymous with neutrality. Its history of neutrality dates back to 1815. On Feb. 28, 2022 Switzerland imposed sanctions to condemn Russia’s actions against Ukraine. 

   Sanctions are economic and financial penalties placed on a country with the intent to harm their economy. Sanctions are primarily used by leaders to warn other countries and avoid war. According to Bloomberg News, the following sanctions will be imposed on Russia by Switzerland.

  • Export of goods that could contribute to Russia’s military, defense and security sector
  • Providing technical assistance, brokering services or financing
  • Export of certain goods and services in the oil sector
  • Export of certain goods and technology that can be used in aviation and space industry
  • Providing public financing or financial assistance for trade with or investment in Russia
  • Other restrictive measures in the financial sector concern securities, loans and the acceptance of deposits
  • Transactions with the Russian Central Bank

   This move by the Swiss government has been applauded and welcomed by some and criticized by others. In addition to financial sanctions, Switzerland will close its airspace to all Russian planes and block Russian president Vladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian oligarchs from entering the country.

   Swiss neutrality is one of the main principles of the country and its foreign policy. Before 1515 Switzerland had an expansionist foreign policy, meaning that Switzerland expanded its empire through the use of its military power and force. Swiss neutrality took effect after the Treaty of Paris. During the first World War Switzerland remained neutral despite the fact that they shared a border with two of the axis powers and two of the allied powers.

   During World War II an invasion of Switzerland was planned by Germany. In preparation, Switzerland mobilized 850,000 soldiers, an action that has been heavily criticized since. In May 1992 Switzerland was in talks to join the E.U., but the talks were later suspended as joining the E.U. could compromise their neutrality. Switzerland did not join NATO for fear that joining would compromise their neutrality. Instead, they became a part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. 

   Sanctioning Russia broke Switzerland’s 500 year history of neutrality, also breaking one of the world’s oldest military policies of neutrality.