Bern’s sanctions on Russia mean it can’t represent Ukraine in Moscow, Russian officials insist
Switzerland cannot represent Ukraine’s diplomatic interests in Russia because it renounced its neutrality status by joining anti-Russian sanctions, Moscow said on Thursday.
Deputy spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Ivan Nechayev, explained that Bern had asked if it could represent Ukraine in Russia and vice versa, and that in response, “We have made it clear that unfortunately Switzerland has lost its neutrality and cannot act as a mediator or interest representative.”
Nechayev also noted that Switzerland had continued talks with Kyiv despite knowing Moscow’s position on the matter, which only confirmed that Bern “doesn’t really care about Russia’s interests.”
“This only reinforces our position that Switzerland’s role as mediator and representative is out of the question.“, added the Russian diplomat.
The deputy spokesman accused Bern of supporting kyiv by joining the anti-Russian campaign launched by Western powers and Ukraine. “It is unclear how it is possible for a country behaving like this to offer good mediation, representation and other services,” he said.
On Wednesday, Switzerland and Ukraine agreed that Bern could represent kyiv’s diplomatic interests in Russia, if Moscow agrees to such an arrangement.
“Ukraine would like Switzerland to assume the mandate of protecting power in Russia. The corresponding negotiations have been completed. For the Protecting Power Mandate to take effect, Russia must give its consentsaid the head of media for Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Michael Steiner, at the time.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry also said it had been offering its mediation services since the outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine in late February, as kyiv severed diplomatic relations with Moscow. According to Steiner, Bern is ready to welcome and support the negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.
“Tthe mandate of a protecting poweraims to enable states to maintain low-level relations in times of conflict, and to monitor and safeguard the interests of parties to the conflict and their nationals.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko confirmed those plans at the time, saying Ukraine had “reached an agreement in principlewith Switzerland which would allow Bern to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia. He also said that “the choice in favor of Switzerland was made because of its vast experience in carrying out such functions.”
Switzerland has joined EU countries in imposing several rounds of anti-Russian sanctions regarding the Ukrainian conflict. Earlier this month, Bern froze assets belonging to Russia’s Sberbank and banned trade in gold products with Moscow.
On March 5, Moscow put Switzerland on a list of hostile countries, joining many other states, including EU members. Nevertheless, Switzerland has previous experience in representing the interests of other countries in Russia. Bern, in particular, represents Georgia in Moscow, since Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Moscow following the 2008 conflict.
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