Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Germany has called on Switzerland to sell back some Leopard 2 tanks to the manufacturer Rheinmetall.
The company would then fill the gaps in the arsenals of some EU member states caused by supplying weapons to Ukraine, according to Reuters reporting on Friday.
Finland, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Sweden have sent tanks to Ukraine, with Rheinmetall looking for ways to resupply them.
Boris Pistorius, German Minister of Defence, and Robert Habeck, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, presented the proposal to Swiss Minister of Defence Viola Amherd in a letter on 23 February.
They assured Amherd that the tanks in question would not be sent to Ukraine, with the Swiss Ministry of Defence pointing out “there would be no onward transfer of the battle tanks to Ukraine.”
Switzerland’s neutrality rules prevent the country from providing Ukraine with weapons directly and the country would have to ease its rules to help Rheinmetall backfill gaps in the arsenals of EU and NATO member states, which would allow them to send more weapons to Ukraine.
In her response on 1 March, Amherd noted that the Swiss parliament would have to declare the mothballed part of the country’s tank fleet to be out of service before any sale could take place.
Parliament discussing the plan
Her ministry pointed out that “discussions on this issue are currently underway in parliament” and added that a limited number of tanks could be sold back to the manufacturer.
The Swiss Armed Forces have 134 Leopard 2s in service and an additional 96 in storage, with the Swiss government announcing it would comment on developments at the start of next week.
The Swiss Ministry of Defence did not say how many Leopard 2s Germany wanted to buy and its German counterpart was not available to comment.
Switzerland previously rejected requests of EU member states including Denmark, Germany and Spain to re-export Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine, but growing political pressure is pushing the government to revise Switzerland’s neutrality rules.
Two parliamentary security committees have recommended an easing of the rules as pressure from EU neighbours continues to mount and the issue becomes increasingly divisive.