Switzerland to Join Anti-Russian Sanctions Only if Backed by UNSC: Envoy

© Sputnik / Grigoriy Sisoev / Go to the photo bankSwiss Ambassador to Russia Pierre Helg
Swiss Ambassador to Russia Pierre Helg - Sputnik International
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Bern will only implement international sanctions if first imposed by the UN Security Council, said the Swiss ambassador to Russia.

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MOSCOW, December 3 (Sputnik) — Switzerland is not planning to introduce sanctions against Russia but will do so, should they be imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Swiss Ambassador to Russia, Pierre Helg told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

"If the United Nations Security Council is introducing sanctions against some state, Switzerland, that became the member of the UN in 2002, is joining them like any other member of this organization, even if it does not like it. This is probably the only case when Bern will follow international sanctions and implement them as well," the ambassador said, adding that Switzerland is currently not considering introducing sanctions on Russia.

Switzerland is not part of the European Union and is not required to support the full package of restrictive measures imposed by the bloc on Russia. However, since Switzerland belongs to the Schengen zone, the sanctions have ramifications on the country. In order to prevent the circumvention of them, Switzerland has imposed specific restrictions on the operations of five Russian banks. Apart from that, in accordance with the country's neutral status, the Swiss government has banned military exports to Russia and Ukraine, later extending the ban to dual-use military goods.

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"Switzerland has to conduct the policy that demonstrates its neutrality, for [its neutral status] to remain credible," Helg said.

The Swiss ambassador noted that despite the Ukrainian crisis and the Western sanctions, the cooperation between Switzerland and Russia was continuing in nonmilitary spheres, such as economy and education.

Responding to a question on whether talks between the Russian-led Customs Union and the European Free Trade Association on the creation of a free trade zone, suspended following the EU decision, will continue, Helg noted that this was an issue for politicians to determine.

"It is clear that the contacts will be continued, but the decision on when it will happen will apparently be made by competent leaders and departments depending on how the situation will unfold. It is hard to say when some kind of detente will be reached," Helg said.

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Helg said that Swiss businesses aimed at Russian markets have been affected by the current situation in the economy, including the Western sanctions against Russia and the weakening ruble, but it is not in the traditions of Swiss government to support enterprises in situations like this.

"Business should deal with the situation on its own. When beginning to work abroad they are weighing these risks and thus currently the issue of supporting or aiding someone is absolutely out of the agenda."

Late in November, in a previous interview on the matter, Helg said that cooperation between Switzerland and Russia will continue in all spheres but the military, stressing that Bern did not join other countries in sanctioning Moscow but only took measures to protect its own market.

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