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The Swiss government announced today that it is freezing with immediate effect the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Prime Minister Mikhail Michoustine, his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and other members of his government.
Switzerland has thus agreed to apply in full the package of sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russian political and military leaders, which it had hitherto only partially taken on board, to ensure that the country was not used as a platform for evading sanctions.
The measure affects any assets and bank accounts that the sanctioned individuals may have in Switzerland.
The invasion and war launched by Russia against its neighbor are “unacceptable from the point of view of international law, politics and morality,” said Swiss President Ignzio Cassis, announcing the freezing of Russian assets at a press conference.
“This is a far-reaching measure for Switzerland,” acknowledged the president, who explained that the government took the last two days to examine its consequences in view of the apparent clash it implied with the principle of neutrality on which the country’s foreign policy is founded.
“We took this step with conviction, in a thoughtful and unequivocal manner,” he told reporters, after assuring that “the principle of neutrality is not modified by this decision.”
Hours earlier, in Brussels, a spokesman for the European Commission had called on Switzerland to “rise to the occasion” and fully join the financial sanctions on Russia, which in addition to the EU have also been taken by the United States and the United Kingdom.
Switzerland is a major player in Europe’s financial services sector.
Cassis acknowledged that this decision “does not build a bridge of sympathy with Russia” and reduces Switzerland’s chances of being the scene of peace talks or acting as a mediator in this conflict.
However, he assured that the doors are open for Swiss diplomacy to put its traditional good offices at the service of Russia and Ukraine, should they so decide.