Switzerland also adopted financial sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin as China signals limits to its support for Russia.
Russia’s move into Ukraine is about to get a lot more painful…for the Russians.
In a stunning move, Switzerland has jettisoned its famously neutral position when it comes to conflicts and adopted European Union sanctions and frozen assets.
“We are in an extraordinary situation where extraordinary measures could be decided,” President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told a news conference in Bern on Monday, flanked by the finance, defence and justice ministers.
Only history would tell if such a move could happen again, he said. Swiss neutrality remained intact but “of course we stand on the side of Western values,” he added.
Switzerland also adopted financial sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, effective immediately, and closed its airspace to most Russian aircraft.
Historically, Switzerland has avoided imposing sanctions during a string of Russian-led regional crises, including when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
It also joined European neighbors in closing its airspace to Russian aircraft, except for humanitarian or diplomatic purposes. But said it would evaluate whether to join in subsequent E.U. sanctions on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Lavrov, who was scheduled to be in Geneva on Tuesday to address the United Nations Human Rights Council, will no longer make the trip because of the flight ban, Russia’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva said on Twitter.
Swiss national bank data showed that Russian companies and individuals held assets worth more than $11 billion in Swiss banks in 2020. As a hub for the global commodities trade, Switzerland also hosts numerous companies that trade Russian oil and other commodities.
Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned financial institutions have been quietly distancing themselves from Russia’s beleaguered economy.
…[A]mid Moscow’s deepening international isolation, there are growing signs that Beijing’s willingness to throw its strategic partner an economic lifeline may only go so far.
Even as Beijing has refused to term Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine an “invasion” and condemned Western-led sanctions, Chinese state-owned financial institutions have been quietly distancing themselves from Russia’s beleaguered economy.
The moves suggest a careful balancing act by Beijing as it seeks to buttress ties with Moscow without openly violating sanctions, which could jeopardise its access to key Western export markets and the US dollar-centric international financial system.
Bank of China’s Singapore operations recently ceased financing deals involving Russian oil and firms, the Reuters news agency reported on Monday, citing a source familiar with the situation.
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