The Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported that Switzerland has blocked the re-export from Germany to Ukraine of Swiss-produced ammunition used in German-made Marder infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The move by Switzerland, which maintains a neutral status, has held up arms deliveries by Germany at a time when Berlin is already under fire for failing to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons to help fight off Russia’s invasion of the country. Switzerland has gone against previous practice and adopted EU sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for its invasion, but has insisted its neutrality does not allow it to send arms to conflict zones.
The Marder vehicles are made by German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall but use Swiss-manufactured ammunition. Switzerland restricts the re-export of such war materiel to conflict zones. The paper quoted a spokesperson for the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) as saying it had received two inquiries from Germany about transferring to Ukraine munitions it had got from Switzerland. Both of Germany’s requests were answered in the negative with reference to Swiss neutrality and the mandatory rejection criteria of the war material legislation. Swiss officials have previously rejected Poland’s request for the Alpine state to send arms to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin, Andrij Melnyk, expressed a wish for Germany to aid his country against an expected major Russian offensive by delivering Leopard battle tanks, Marder infantry fighting vehicles, Cobra weapons location radars and the armoured howitzer Panzerhaubitze 2000. Rheinmetall are ready to start deliveries of 100 units of Marder infantry fighting vehicle in a matter of days after getting the “green light”. Germany had supplied Ukraine with €186m (£154m) worth of military supplies, including rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft rockets, machine guns and ammunition.
The Marder is a German infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) operated by the German Army. Primary armament is the 20 mm Rheinmetall MK 20 Rh202 autocannon and MILAN anti-tank guided missile, which is mounted in the small two-man turret and can fire either armour-piercing or HE rounds. Typically, 1,250 Oerlikon Contraves rounds are carried for the 20 mm cannon, along with a further 5,000 rounds for the MG3. Oerlikon Contraves was a Swiss anti-aircraft artillery manufacturer famous for its adaptation of the 1916 20 mm Becker as the Oerlikon 20 mm autocannon design. Oerlikon Contraves was purchased by Rheinmetall in 1999 and the company’s Oerlikon Contraves unit was renamed Rheinmetall Air Defence AG.