MWith the Russian invasion of Ukraine, diplomatic relations between the two countries ended. Ukraine’s ambassador to Switzerland, Artem Ribchenko, recently clarified what this means in concrete terms. In an interview with “NZZ” Rybchenko recalled that somewhere in Russia, many Ukrainian children and civilians were abducted.
He will no longer have a lawyer in the aggressor state. “We want our children and citizens back,” said the ambassador. In the absence of direct diplomatic channels, Russia may have a helpful approach for Ukraine to give neutral Switzerland a protective power mandate.
Thus Switzerland can take part of Ukraine’s consular or diplomatic functions in Russia; It will also include a prison visit by Ukrainian fighters. She can also slip into the role of the postman between the two countries.
So-called good offices have long been practiced in Switzerland: since 1980, for example, it has represented the interests of the United States in Iran. Americans cut diplomatic ties with Iran after embassy officials were taken hostage in Tehran. Since 2009, Switzerland has also been a defense power for Russia in Georgia and Georgia in Russia.
In the list of “unfriendly states”
As a spokesman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry said upon request, months of talks between Ukraine and Switzerland on a specific security power mandate have now come to an end. However, Russia will also have to give its consent to implement it. But the problem is right there. Citing earlier statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Russian embassy in Bern said that in talks with Ukraine, Russia was unwilling to consider offers of arbitration from countries that “join anti-Russian sanctions”. went”. This has affected Switzerland’s neutrality to some extent, the embassy wrote in a statement. A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry also said this on Thursday afternoon. that Switzerland “can act neither as an arbitrator nor as a representative of interests”.
The Kremlin put Switzerland on its list of “unfriendly countries” in early March. Nevertheless, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis hoped until the very end that the Russians would also agree to a defense power mandate. In an interview with the newspaper “Le Matin Dimanche” a few weeks ago, the FDP politician insisted that Switzerland is “a little less unfriendly than other countries”. “We haven’t expelled any diplomats, we haven’t banned Russian media.” There are nuances, but they ensure that Switzerland positions itself somewhat differently. “It’s a balancing act.”
It now threatens to fail. A spokesman in Bern on Thursday did not want to comment on the now slim prospects of a deal with Russia: “Prudence is an important element to be able to provide good services.”