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Switzerland: parliament approves resale of 25 Leopard 2 tanks to Rheinmetall

Source: swissinfo.ch

The Swiss parliament has approved the resale of 25 Leopard 2 tanks to the German firm Rheinmetall.

 

On Tuesday the House of Representatives followed the Senate and gave its greenlight to the operation. Germany has undertaken not to send the tanks to Ukraine.

The Swiss Army will hand over the 25 tanks to their German manufacturer Rheinmetall to decommission them. They could be resold to other European countries, said Andrea Gmür-Schönenberger of the Centre Party.

German Ambassador Michael Flügger welcomed the decision, saying Germany was “happy and grateful”.

He nonetheless reiterated Germany’s criticism of the re-export ban on Swiss weapons. Germany had bought numerous weapons and components from Switzerland and it would like to pass some of these on to Ukraine.

 

 

“We understand that Swiss law does not currently allow these weapons to be passed on,” he told Swiss public TV, SRF. However, the hope is that the relevant laws will be changed. Without a change, it would be “difficult to impossible” to continue to obtain weapons or ammunition from Switzerland in the future, he said.

The resale of the 25 Leopard tanks will not hinder the coverage of the needs of the Swiss Army. Tanks cannot be sent to Ukraine, not even indirectly. Swiss neutrality is thus not engaged. “And we are thus strengthening cooperation with our partners as well as European defence,” said Gmür-Schönenberger.

The resale debate gave rise to a clash with right-wing senators. The Swiss People’s Party tried to oppose it. According to the opinion of senior army officers, Switzerland already lacks tanks, said Werner Salzmann. The House of Representatives made its decision without being aware of the problem and foreign policy considerations should not take precedence in this matter, Salzmann said.

The Swiss Army currently has 134 Leopard 2 tanks in service. The remaining 71 tanks placed in storage are sufficient for the Swiss Army if necessary, insisted Defence Minister Viola Amherd.

 

Source: swissinfo.ch.

 

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