Switzerland, which has traditionally followed a policy of neutrality, has decided to destroy 60 British-made Rapier air defense systems.
Confirming the news, the spokesperson of the Swiss army, Kaj-Gunnar Sievert, said that the first part of the air defense systems was destroyed, and the remaining ones will be dismantled and destroyed in a short time. The decision was made after the Swiss army decommissioned Rapier air defense systems at the end of 2022.
The decision sparked controversy in Switzerland
According to Independent Turkish, the decision to destroy the Rapier air defense systems received a strong reaction from politicians working on security.
François Pointet, a Green Liberals National Assembly member and vice chairman of the Security Policy Commission, said the transfer of weapons to Ukraine was legally possible and their destruction was "nonsense".
A spokesman for the army said the decision to destroy was made in 2019 and the UK was never asked if they wanted to buy back the weapons. While it now seems difficult to reverse the decision to destroy the rapier systems, the Swiss military is also expected to decommission many foreign weapon systems in the next few years. Among them, there are 248 American-made M113 armored combat vehicles and 100 M109 type heavy guns, which were seen on the front lines of the Ukrainian war.
According to security expert Riniker, it is legally possible to return these vehicles to the US without any conditions. "If geopolitical tensions remain so high, Americans will probably want to buy the vehicles," said Riniker, adding that Switzerland should prepare itself politically for this issue.
Missiles purchased in 2007 are also destroyed
Rapier air defense systems, which include a launch pad and a radar system, were supplied by the Swiss army in the 1980s. The federal government also purchased 2,000 modern guided missiles for the systems during its modernization efforts in 2007. With the new decision, it was stated that these missiles will also be destroyed.
Peter Schneider, former editor-in-chief of the German Swiss Military Magazine (ASMZ), who made evaluations on the subject, said, "The missiles were old, but their expiration date is not past. England protected the 2012 London Olympics with Rapier. These systems are very effective against low-flying drone-like targets. effective,” he said.
Stating that the systems can also be used against warplanes and helicopters, Schneider pointed out that Ukraine can protect the civilian infrastructure in cities with these weapons.
Neutrality status of Switzerland
Switzerland's neutrality status was accepted and formalized by the European powers during the Napoleonic Wars (1800-1815) with the aim of creating a buffer zone. After more than 200 years and two world wars, 90 percent of Switzerland, which has a population of 8.7 million, supports the status of neutrality and sees it as a national ideal.
The Swiss, who host the United Nations and the Red Cross in Geneva, see themselves as the peacemaker and benefactor of the world. However, this is not the case in Western capitals, which have focused on the war in Ukraine in recent years.
The fact that Swiss banks, which are famous for their privacy policies and often placed at the center of money laundering allegations, also serve oligarchs connected with Russian President Putin, draws the reaction of Western diplomats.