Dutch tank delivery to Ukraine may be impacted by Swiss parliament vote
A plan from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany to supply Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine may be affected by a decision made in Swiss parliament, a Dutch Ministry of Defense spokesperson confirmed on Friday. The ministry announced in February that the three cooperating countries will supply at least 100 tanks to Ukraine as they try to fight off Russia. That promise is not in jeopardy, but the prospect of delivering additional tanks could be in jeopardy, the spokesperson said.
The "Lex Ukraine" bill was drafted in the National Council, the lower house of Swiss parliament, as a way for other countries to supply Ukraine with arms produced by Swiss companies. That proposal was rejected in a session of the National Council and the Council of States, the upper house of parliament.
During a summit of European political leaders in Moldova, it emerged on Thursday that the Netherlands is planning to buy dozens of Leopard 1 tanks from a Swiss company with the intention of giving them to Ukraine. The vote late Thursday night in the Swiss parliament made it extremely unlikely that the government in Bern will be able to authorize the transfer of arms.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte had asked the Swiss for their urgent approval. Sources now said that it is questionable whether such a deal can be closed.
Swiss law does not allow weapons to be supplied to countries at war. That is why, for example, Germany is not allowed to supply Ukraine with Swiss-produced ammunition for the Leopard tanks it previously purchased.
The Lex Ukraine bill was supposed to make an exception to that rule, but it failed to garner enough support. The Dutch Ministry of Defense said that it may still be possible to deliver the tanks despite the decision from the Swiss parliament, and it will investigate its options.
Among the opponents to the measure were the Swiss green parties and the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party. Both feared that the proposal would jeopardize the notion of Swiss neutrality, and bring the country too close to the NATO military alliance.
Reporting by ANP