Ukraine war fails to nudge neutral Switzerland closer to NATO

The security architecture on the European continent is changing dramatically as Russia extends its war on Ukraine.

While Finland and Sweden are increasingly likely to join NATO, closer cooperation with the alliance is also the subject of a lively discussion in Switzerland.

But will the mountainous, landlocked Central European country abandon its principle of neutrality and make a bid to the Washington-led Western military alliance?

“The country might benefit from additional networks regarding intelligence and other security-related exchange formats,” said Goetschel, adding NATO would have an additional member and there would be “no discussions anymore about being allowed to use Swiss airspace – or even land routes – for transports and communication”.

But he added: “Neutrality is historically rooted in the two past centuries, when it served the country to maintain its independence in a Europe characterised by major wars. It also helped national cohesion, when parts of the population would rather have supported France and other parts of Germany.

“Over the years and through its success, neutrality became part of Swiss national identity. By now, it still represents the county’s major foreign policy orientation.”

According to Wyn Rees, professor of international security at the University of Nottingham, their bid to join NATO is a “tectonic shift … changing over 70 years of policy”.

Unlike Switzerland, both countries are members of the European Union and have delivered weapons to Ukraine.

They have allowed NATO to conduct operations on their territory since 2014 – and participated in them.

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