Switzerland's Ambassador to Russia Yves Rossier regaled dignitaries attending the inaugural ceremony of the newly-renovated Swiss Embassy complex in Moscow with a speech that was interspersed with endearing Russian sayings on 18 June; the event was attended by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis.
Lavrov wittily responded, “If you suddenly fall under sanctions, remember one more proverb: “If you fear wolves, don't enter the forest.”
At the ceremony, Lavrov advised the Swiss ambassador to seek out a private residence for himself, and shared his own experience moving into Russia's official diplomatic residence in New York in 1994, when he was appointed the country's ambassador to the UN.
“I couldn’t endure it for long. An ambassador must live separately, you need to have a private residence,” said Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 2014, Switzerland partially joined the EU sanctions against Russia.
Specifically, the country's authorities introduced a number of restrictions on the placement of long-term securities by five state-owned Russian banks that were slapped with EU sanctions over the Ukraine issue: Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank and Rosselkhozbank.
The Russian foreign ministry unequivocally condemned Bern's actions.
“We regard these decisions of Bern as unfounded and indicating that the Swiss, to the detriment of their own interests, continue to replicate the unfriendly steps of the US and the EU with respect to Russia,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had stated.
At the same time, Switzerland was never subject to Russian counter-sanctions, which included an extensive food embargo.
The new Swiss embassy in Moscow brings together various agencies that promote Swiss interests abroad and is one of the country’s largest diplomatic representations overseas.
It consists of two buildings, an existing structure from the 19th century that was too small for diplomatic staff and officials, and a new building, designed by the Lausanne architects Brauen and Wälchli.
The official residence of the ambassador is a historically significant building, built at the end of the 19th century according to designs of architect Nikolay Yakunin.