The Swiss company intends to sell "Leopards" from Italy to Ukraine via Germany
Swiss defense conglomerate Ruag plans to sell 96 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.
According to Swissinfo, the company has submitted an official application for an export permit despite negative signals from politicians and parliamentarians.
Seven years ago, Ruag acquired these tanks from Italy with the intention to resell or use them for spare parts. The tanks, which are currently stored in Italy, are now planned to be sold for further use in Ukraine. The process involves sending the tanks first to Germany under the control of their manufacturer, Rheinmetall, and then to Ukraine.
The final decision on the export permit will be made by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), a division of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research. The federal government has previously considered this deal, as Ruag requested information about the possibility of obtaining an export permit for these tanks at the beginning of 2023.
Seco has already issued a negative opinion, stating that such an agreement is incompatible with the decisions made by the Federal Council regarding sanctions. Therefore, Ruag's chances of receiving a positive response from the authorities are low. However, Ruag still submitted the application to obtain an official decision from Seco in order to better assess the prospects and options for their business.
Parliamentarians have expressed surprise at this request. Werner Salzmann, a member of the Swiss People's Party (SVP) in the Council of States, believes that Switzerland should not grant permission for such a deal under any circumstances. He argues that it would be impossible because it would give Ukraine a unilateral advantage, which is unacceptable from the perspective of Switzerland's legislative principles of neutrality.
Franziska Roth, a parliamentarian from the Socialist Party (SP), also sees significant obstacles to this deal but can imagine indirect assistance to Ukraine through Switzerland. She is eagerly awaiting Seco's response.
Seco confirmed receiving Ruag's official request but declined to provide further comments. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs has two options: it can either make the decision within its authority or refer the matter to the Federal Council for political examination.
As The Gaze reported, US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said that it will take “several months at best” to get F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. He noted that this aircraft will become one of the most important elements of the country's armament, and Ukrainian pilots are able to learn to fly the aircraft quickly enough.