The question first arose when Switzerland refused to allow Germany to transfer its own stock of Swiss-made ammunition for the German Gepard air defense system to Ukraine. Arms sales always give the manufacturing nation veto power over subsequent transfers of any arms or munitions. Yet the spirit of the rule is to prevent weapons from being transferred/sold to unfriendly nations. The U.S. wouldn’t want Switzerland to sell an American-made F-35 jet to Russia.
But by preventing Germany from transferring the ammunition to a friendly ally, Switzerland severely devalued its own arms industry. Would Switzerland also block the transfer of German-owned but Swiss-made arms and ammunition to its NATO allies during an alliance-wide war? Given Switzerland’s words and deeds, the answer was a clear “yes.”
Since then, the Swiss have been forced to deny request after request from Germany, Spain, Denmark, and others. The Germans are particularly infuriated, and have already made clear that they will no longer be sourcing anything from their southern neighbors.
Meanwhile, actions like these further stoke fury across Europe:
Indeed, many of Ukraine’s allies have take great pains to only request defensive weapons. Yet by claiming neutrality, Switzerland has made it easier for Russia to murder Ukrainian civilians and cause billions of dollars of damage to the nation’s infrastructure. Is it really “neutral” to give one side a clear military advantage?
During war, inaction has as much impact as action. And Switzerland has gone to great lengths to ensure that its inaction aids Russia’s war effort. The country has 100 Leopard 2 A4s in storage that it has been trying to sell. Germany offered to buy them. Switzerland refused, knowing they would subsequently be transferred to Ukraine. The beneficiary, of course, is once again Russia.
The Swiss arms industry is apoplectic. They’ve already warned of lost bids and canceled orders. It is obviously in no one’s interest to purchase weapons that cannot be transferred to allies, for a continent whose defense is based on an alliance. But it goes deeper than dollar and cents.
The Hague Convention of 1907 [is] the basis for today’s Swiss neutrality. The convention required neutral states to refrain from waging war, and to maintain an equidistance between warring parties — they could sell weapons, for example, but only if they did so for all sides of a conflict. It also obliges neutral countries to ensure their territories are not used by warring forces.
This led to what the Swiss call “armed neutrality” — a commitment not just to neutrality, but to maintaining the ability to protect it. The latter is what critics now argue is under threat.
To be clear, the Swiss have never depended on a treaty to protect their neutrality. The country has maintained one of the best armies in Europe to safeguard itself. But that’s the crux of its dilemma:
“Armed neutrality needs soldiers, weapons, equipment — and an arms industry. Our neutrality has to be armed, otherwise it’s useless,” said Werner Salzmann, a member of the conservative Swiss People’s Party.
The Swiss defense industry depends on exports, he said, and could not survive without them.
Switzerland cannot safeguard its neutrality without its arms industry. But depending on shrinking exports, that arms industry will shrivel up and die.
In reality, this is a symbolic problem for the Swiss: The country is surrounded by NATO nations, none of which have designs on any Swiss territory. They can afford to wax poetic about “neutrality” without hostile nations (like Russia) on their border. And as a pluralistic democracy that shares Western values, Switzerland further benefits from access to advanced Western weapons systems like the American F-35 fighter jet.
Still, the Swiss are making no friends and definitely poisoning future relations. While opposition parties have been trying to find loopholes to allow aid to Ukraine, the ruling party has thus far blocked all efforts. Their justifications are beyond absurd:
Swiss neutrality is more important than ever, President Alain Berset said in an interview published Sunday, defending the controversial ban on transferring Swiss-made arms to Ukraine.
"Swiss weapons must not be used in wars," he told the NZZ am Sonntag weekly.
What are Swiss weapons then? Toys? That sound you just heard was the final death rattle of the Swiss arms industry.
The Swiss care about one thing: money. Their banking industry, friendly to money launderers everywhere, holds between $50 and $200 billion in Russian assets. The Swiss have sanctioned just $8 billion of that amount.
It’s a weird kind of “neutrality” that only benefits the aggressor.
Elon Musk is an asshole, but Starlink is proving invaluable to Ukrainian war efforts and there are no current alternatives. This excellent thread explains why:
War criminal Russian nationalist Igor Girkin is always happy to shit on Russian progress.
Speaking of Bakhmut …
That’s actually not true. Other footage shows them with a rifle. That stick might’ve been a makeshift crutch.
Either this guy deserves his own Oscar, or Russian ammunition shortages are a real concern.
It’s hard to square Russian crying about “shell hunger” with videos of Ukrainian forces under constant, unceasing artillery barrages. But it could all be true: At the peak of Russia’s war effort, Ukraine estimated that Russia was shooting 50,000 artillery rounds per day. Even 5,000 daily shells can be “unceasing” if Russia is dropping them all on your position.
And given how narrow Russia’s war scope is now, that ammunition shortage can be the reason why Russia has been unable to more aggressively contest Ukrainian positions aside from a handful of locations (like Bakhmut, Vuhledar, and Avdiivka).
Ukrainian tank takes out Russian trench:
That’s south of Ivanivske, southwest of Bakhmut. If a single tank and infantry fighting vehicle could slice through that trench that easily, I’ve got even higher hopes for Ukraine’s spring-or-summer combined-arms offensive.
His execution was a brutal war crime. So not saying this to in any way excuse the Russian side. But in general, snipers don’t get much sympathy when captured by either side.
Progressives have had tremendous success passing all sorts of reforms at the ballot box in recent years, including measures that have expanded Medicaid, increased the minimum wage, and created independent redistricting commissions. How have Republicans responded? By making it harder to qualify measures for the ballot.
Daily Kos Elections' own Stephen Wolf joins us on this week's episode of The Downballot for a deep dive on the GOP's war on ballot initiatives, which includes burdensome signature requirements that disproportionately impact liberals; ramping up the threshold for passage for citizen-backed measures but not those referred by legislatures; and simply repealing voter-passed laws Republicans don't like. But Republican power is not unfettered, and Stephen explains how progressives can fight back by defeating efforts to curtail ballot measures—many of which voters themselves would first have to approve.
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