June 20, 2024

Patriot air defense system: Should Switzerland wait longer for Ukraine’s sake? -News

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German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has suggested that Switzerland withdraw from purchasing the Patriot air defense system in favor of Ukraine. Federal President Viola Amherd confirms that discussions are continuing. There are concerns from Parliament.

Reeling under Russian fire, Ukraine is urgently asking other countries to provide it with more air defense systems – specifically the ground-based Patriot system. Switzerland requested this system from the United States of America for two billion francs.

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Radar of the Patriot air defense system from the American company “Raytheon” in a photo taken on August 21, 2019 in Minsingen (ZG).

Keystone/Alexandra Way

Helping Ukraine directly is out of the question due to its neutrality. But Germany asks Switzerland for indirect assistance: Switzerland must leave the planned delivery to the Germans and thus be supplied later. Germany, which is helping Ukraine with Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, could fill its gaps more quickly.

I can say that I am in talks with Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.

On the sidelines of her visit to the German Chancellor, Viola Amherd, President of the Swiss Confederation, said: “The government in Switzerland has not yet dealt with this issue.” That’s why I can’t predict the decision. I can say that I am in talks with Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.

Frowning in the federal councils

This request raised eyebrows among Swiss security politicians. “I don’t believe in this idea at all,” Josef Dietli, FDP state councilor for Uri, for whom indirect aid to Ukraine is generally not taboo, tells SRF News.

We need the same Patriot systems.

We have almost nothing against medium and long-range air defense missiles. We need the same Patriot systems. Especially since it will not be delivered before 2028. This was also confirmed by Mauro Tuina, First Vice President of the National Council of Zurich. For him, neutrality policy considerations also play against him.

I see problems on the time axis.

Overall, SP security expert Priska Seiler-Graf is very sympathetic to this idea. Supporting Ukraine in defense also helps Switzerland’s security. “Ukraine urgently needs to strengthen its air defence,” Zurich’s national advisor tells SRF News. “I think it is right for Switzerland to show its solidarity, especially regarding the peace conference. But I see problems on the time axis.

Will the Patriots still be useful?

Like Dietley, it alludes to the fact that Patriot missiles are scheduled to be delivered to Switzerland between 2026 and 2028. The question here is to what extent this delay in delivery might benefit Germany – and indirectly, especially Ukraine. There is another aspect that the Federal Council must take into account when making its decision. It is still unclear when this will happen.

Brief assessment by the Bundeshaus editor


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Nathalie Christen: “From today’s point of view, the Federal Council is unlikely to approve the idea. Regarding the neutrality law, the concerns this time are likely to be less than in previous investigations, as the matter will merely be to postpone a personal matter. This time, the deciding factor is likely to be concern for airspace safety – because the assessment that this is where the real danger is greatest is shared squarely by the left camp. If there are also doubts about how much impact the postponement will actually have due to time constraints, it could lead to the already cautious Federal Council hitting the brakes this time too.

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