Bern’s sanctions against Russia mean it cannot represent Ukraine in Moscow, the Foreign Ministry says
Switzerland cannot represent Ukraine’s diplomatic interests in Russia as it gave up its neutrality status by joining anti-Russia sanctions, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Ivan Nechayev said Bern has asked Moscow whether it can represent Ukraine in Russia and vice versa, and that in response, “It was made clear by us that Switzerland is no longer neutral and can’t act as an intermediary or representative of any interests..”
Nechayev also noted that Switzerland has continued talks with Kiev despite knowing Moscow’s stance on the matter, which only confirmed that Bern “doesn’t really care about Russia’s interests.”
“This only reinforces our position that Switzerland’s role as a mediator and a representative is out of the question“
Bern was accused by the deputy spokesperson of backing Kiev through his participation in the anti-Russian campaign by Western powers.It is unclear how it’s possible for a country behaving like this to offer mediation, representation and other good servicesHe replied, “Yes.”
On Wednesday, Switzerland and Ukraine agreed that Bern could represent Kiev’s diplomatic interests in Russia, should Moscow consent to such an arrangement.
“Ukraine wants Switzerland to take over the role of Russia’s protector. All relevant negotiations are complete. Russia needs to consent to the creation of a protective power.,” the Head of Media at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Michael Steiner, said at the time.
In addition, the Swiss foreign ministry stated that its mediation services have been offered since late February when hostilities broke out between Russia and Ukraine. It was this because Kiev had cut all diplomatic ties to Moscow. Steiner stated that Bern would be willing to host and assist negotiations between Moscow and Kiev.
“TThe mandate for a power of protection” is meant to allow states to maintain low-level relations at times of conflict, and to monitor and safeguard the interests of parties to the conflict and their nationals.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko confirmed such plans at the time, saying Ukraine had “We reached a principled agreement” with Switzerland that would allow Bern to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia. He also said that “The Swiss have a lot of experience performing these functions and this is why they were chosen.”
Switzerland joined the EU in issuing several rounds of anti Russia sanctions regarding Ukraine. Earlier this month, Bern froze assets belonging to Russia’s Sberbank and banned trade in gold products with Moscow.
Moscow added Switzerland to its list of “hostile countries” on March 5. This was in addition to many other EU member states. Nonetheless, Switzerland has prior experience of representing other countries’ interests in Russia. Since 2008, when Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Moscow, Bern has been representing Georgia in Moscow.
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