The Swiss arms manufacturer RUAG has officially requested permission to export dozens of used tanks as part of a deal in which the combat vehicles will eventually be sent to Ukraine, DPA reported, quoted by BTA.
The Swiss government, which adheres to a policy of strict neutrality, has already said it is likely to block the deal. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs has confirmed that the request has been submitted.
A few years ago, RUAG bought the decommissioned 96 Leopard 1 tanks from Italy to use them for spare parts or to sell them to another country, DPA noted. The tanks are currently in Italy.
The proposed deal would see RUAG sell the tanks to German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, which would later hand them over to Ukraine.
In March, after an informal inquiry by RUAG, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said it would reject the deal. Switzerland is keen to maintain its neutrality and prohibits the supply of Swiss-made weapons to countries involved in conflicts.
“We would like to receive an official decision from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs so that we can better assess the business opportunities,” said RUAG spokeswoman Kristen Hamerisch.
Switzerland recently blocked the possibility of Germany sending Ukraine stockpiles of Swiss-made tank ammunition. Germany bought the ammunition years ago, but Swiss arms export contracts always include a clause that allows the country to block any sale.
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