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MILITARY

Switzerland could change stance on Danish military donation to Ukraine

A committee in the Swiss parliament on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a ban on export of Swiss-produced military equipment to be lifted, opening the way for a Danish donation to Ukraine.

Switzerland could change stance on Danish military donation to Ukraine
A Piranha armoured vehicle on display in Denmark. File photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

If the ban is removed, countries with Swiss-produced military hardware will be able to send it to Ukraine, news wire AFP reported.

Any decision to lift the ban must be approved by the Swiss parliament.

The situation is relevant for Denmark because Copenhagen wants to send some of its Swiss-produced armoured vehicles to Ukraine.

Last year, a donation of 20 Swiss-made Piranha armoured vehicles to Ukraine by Denmark was blocked by Switzerland due to the latter country’s policy of military neutrality.

Switzerland currently prevents hardware it produced from being supplied to Ukraine under the neutrality policy, which extends to military assistance to Ukraine in defending itself against the Russian invasion.

Switzerland has previously turned down similar requests from Germany to re-export equipment bought from Switzerland.

Recent weeks have seen increasing pressure on the Swiss government to review the policy.

The parliament’s security policy committee with 14 votes in favour and 11 opposed to back a motion to request a law change to make such transfers possible, AFP reported.

That motion maintained it should be possible to revoke the declarations of non-reexport, which countries purchasing Swiss arms must sign, “in cases where there is a violation of the international ban on resorting to force, and specifically in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian war,” the commission said in a statement.

The Swiss government could still decide to continue barring the transfer of Swiss weaponry in cases where a repeal of the non-reexport declaration posed “major” risks to Swiss foreign policy, it said. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland vetoes Danish military donation to Ukraine

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MILITARY

Denmark in talks with Israel to replace howitzers donated to Ukraine

After pledging all 19 of its French-made Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, Denmark is in talks with Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems for new mobile artillery to plug a "critical gap".

Denmark in talks with Israel to replace howitzers donated to Ukraine

The defence ministry said late Thursday that negotiations were on “with the manufacturer Elbit Systems for the delivery of ATMOS artillery pieces and PULS rocket launcher systems as soon as possible”.

The equipment could be delivered this year, the government said.

“The rocket launchers complement the new artillery systems,” the ministry said.

Denmark had ordered 15 mobile long-range howitzers from French company Nexter in 2017, and four more in 2019.

But deliveries have been delayed and only a few have arrived. All of them have been pledged to Ukraine.

The system can carry 36 155 mm shells and reach targets at distances of up to 40 kilometres (24 miles). ATMOS can fire six shots per minute and can be mounted on most off-road 8X8 trucks.

The next acquisitions are “important for Denmark’s defence and for Denmark to be able to meet its NATO commitments,” Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said.

“The donation to Ukraine leaves a critical capability gap in defence,” he said.

According to Danish media, Nexter advised Denmark against changing suppliers, saying it could provide new artillery.

“Caesar has proven itself on the battlefield in Ukraine, Danish soldiers can use them and the parts are compatible with Danish military IT systems,” a spokesman for the group said.

The primary reason for the defence ministry’s choice of Elbit is that it can deliver the hardware much sooner that its competitor, media Altinget reports.

But the decision to purchase from the Israeli company could prove a controversial one, given that several international banks and pension funds — including some in Denmark — refuse to invest in the company on ethical grounds related to its supply of surveillance and other equipment for use in the West Bank, Altinget writes.

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