On 29 March 2023, Switzerland’s federal government announced the implementation of further sanctions against Russia.
In response to Russia’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine and its continued destabilising actions that undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and security, the EU adopted new measures against Russia on 25 February 2023 in a tenth package of sanctions, said the Swiss government.
The Federal Council is now adopting the remaining measures of the tenth package of sanctions with effect from 29 March 2023. The sanctions will cover an additional 120 additional individuals and entities.
In addition to changes to the reporting obligation in the financial sector, these include a ban on Russian nationals from serving on governing bodies of critical infrastructure owners or operators as well as further sanctions in relation to goods. Specifically, there are new bans and restrictions on various exports including dual-use goods, goods that contribute to military and technological enhancement or to developing the defence and security sector, goods that contribute to Russia’s industrial capacity, and goods used in the aviation and aerospace industries. The latest package also tightens import restrictions on goods of economic importance to Russia.
Furthermore, the Federal Council has made an adjustment in relation to humanitarian exemptions. After deciding on 3 March 2023 to facilitate humanitarian activities in Syria, the Federal Council has now issued a humanitarian exemption for the provision of certain services to Russian organisations. This exemption applies to activities by Swiss public bodies or organisations in receipt of federal funding for conducting their humanitarian activities.
Finally, the Federal Council is introducing the possibility of authorising the transfer of funds or economic resources to sanctioned natural persons, companies or organisations on a case-by-case basis if this is deemed necessary to protect Swiss interests. This decision was prompted by a need to prevent shares in two Swiss companies, Sulzer and medmix AG, from coming into the possession of two sanctioned Russian banks. As a result of US sanctions imposed on Viktor Vekselberg in 2018 and Switzerland’s sanctioning of the two Russian banks in question, Tiwel Holding AG (majority shareholder of Sulzer and medmix) was no longer able to service its loan with the Russian banks – a loan for which Tiwel’s shares in Sulzer and medmix are held as collateral.
In regard to the sanctions, the Federal Council has previously stated it is prepared to act within the framework of existing legislation to minimise any unintended economic consequences on Swiss companies. Through today’s decision, it has prevented sanctioned Russian banks from coming into possession of large stakes in two Swiss high-tech companies and thereby indirectly benefiting from the sanctions.