The Swiss government has recently announced an expansion of its sanctions on Russia, aligning itself with the latest measures imposed by the European Union (EU). These new financial and travel restrictions specifically target individuals, companies, and organizations that support what the Swiss government refers to as the “illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.”
This decision comes after the West accused Russia earlier this year of engaging in “unlawful deportation and transfer” of children from Ukraine. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended the policy of moving minors from combat zones, the international community continues to assert that these practices are illegal. Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, has stated that the children were placed in Russian summer camps and resorts at the request of their families.
In addition to clamping down on those involved in the deportation of Ukrainian children, Switzerland has extended its sanctions to include members of the Russian Armed Forces, key individuals within state-controlled Russian media, and members of the Wagner Group private military company. These sanctions will involve asset freezes and a ban on both travel to and transit through Switzerland.
The Swiss government’s decision to expand its sanctions echoes the EU’s 11th round of anti-Russia sanctions, announced on June 23, 2023. The 27-member bloc has been progressively tightening existing punitive measures against Russia and introducing new ones to address any loopholes.
Russia, in response to the EU’s sanctions, has blacklisted personnel from EU law enforcement agencies and “state and commercial organizations” of member countries. Additionally, EU citizens “involved in providing military assistance to the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev” have also been targeted by Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned that unfriendly actions will be met with appropriate retaliation.
Despite not being an EU member, Switzerland considers itself neutral in terms of its foreign policy. However, the country has previously adopted all the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russian citizens and companies, including asset freezes, back in 2022. The Swiss government has justified its decision by referring to an “extraordinary situation,” emphasizing that Swiss neutrality remains intact, but also stating that they stand on the side of Western values.
This latest move by Switzerland to expand its sanctions on Russia further reflects its commitment to aligning with the EU’s stance on the situation. As the international community continues to address the issue of the deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia, tensions between Russia and Western countries are likely to persist. The coming months will reveal the true effectiveness of these sanctions and whether they will have any significant impact on Russia’s policies and actions.