War in Ukraine – Fear of nuclear conflict grips Swiss parliament


War in UkraineFear of nuclear conflict grips Swiss parliament

The Ukrainian crisis poses several new questions to the National Council on Monday: radioactivity, the protection of civilians or the creation of a task force in Ukraine.

The nuclear threat (here the disused Chernobyl plant) worries parliamentarians.


Last week, Vladimir Putin’s reminder of the nuclear threat and Russian army firing near the Zaporozye reactors increased pressure in parliament. After the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine opened a new location under the Dome. An urgent debate is scheduled for the third week on the matter, but on Monday, at question time, lawmakers want answers.

What measures to protect the Swiss population?

“Russian troops have taken control of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, notes Martina Munz (PS/SH). The damaged reactor can no longer be considered safe.” The National Councilor therefore asks Ignazio Cassis: “What strategic considerations could lead Russia to deliberately destroy the sarcophagus and the nuclear depot?” In general, she asks what measures are taken by the Swiss authorities “to protect the population in the event of an increase in measured radioactivity values?”

What about mutual destruction?

The leader of the UDC group, Thomas Aeschi (UDC/ZG), has more specific questions in the event of an escalation of the conflict: “Does the Federal Council think that in the event of a first nuclear attack by a power, the response would be devastating and that Does the Nash equilibrium theory remain relevant? Does the doctrine of mutual assured destruction apply to actors who act irrationally, or does it lose its relevance in such cases? Indeed, what would be the fate of Switzerland in such a situation?

Finally ratify the treaty

For Claudia Friedl (PS/SG), this would be an opportunity for Switzerland to finally ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Federal Chambers have already asked the Federal Council several times to sign this treaty and submit it to Parliament for ratification, but it has not done so. “Isn’t this the right time? she wonders. What does he think of Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons?

Protection of civilians

Laurent Wehrli (PLR/VD) notes that, unfortunately, “civilians are the first victims of armed conflicts, as in Ukraine”, in particular through the use of explosive weapons in populated areas: “It is the intention of the Federal Council, during the next round of negotiations, support the recommendation by the UN Secretary-General and the ICRC President that states should avoid the use of explosive weapons with a wide area of ​​impact in populated areas?

A Ukrainian task force?

Sibel Arslan (Vert.es/BS) notes that the situation in Ukraine continues to worsen and the number of refugees is increasing. Switzerland has already acted and reacted on many levels: “Does the Federal Council have a plan or an overall strategy to manage the consequences of this senseless war, it wonders, in particular about refugees, local assistance and economic repercussions? Is there a task force dedicated to this file?

How many billion Russians are gone?

Samira Marti (PS/BL) recalls that the Federal Council took several days to approve all the sanctions imposed by the EU to freeze the assets that Russian citizens hold in Switzerland: “During these five days, ask- How many billions of francs have been transferred by Russian oligarchs to other states or placed in other ways? How many billions of francs is the damage that the Federal Council caused by delaying the adoption of sanctions taken in response to the invasion ordered by President Putin?

Reintroduction of pocket ammo

For Jean-Luc Addor (UDC/VS), the consequences of this war could encourage the Swiss army to reintroduce pocket ammunition: “A uniformed soldier with a gun is a potential target, he notes. But how can he defend himself, if necessary, without ammunition, especially during the mobilization process? As part of the reflections that the war in Ukraine will force us to make, is the Federal Council willing to re-examine the desirability of reintroducing pocket munitions?

What gas for the next winter?

Gabriela Suter (PS/AG) returns to the fact that gas covers about 15% of Switzerland’s energy needs and that almost half of that gas comes from Russia: in addition to buying Russian gas and what measures is the Federal Council taking to ensure a affordable gas supply also for winter 2022-2023?”

And the Wagner militia?

Nicolas Walder (Vert.es/GE) is concerned about the presence of the Wagner paramilitary group in Ukraine, which constitutes a threat to fundamental rights: “Does the Federal Council intend to adopt sanctions against the Wagner group and its financier, the oligarch Eugueni Prigojine?”

How many rich Russians under sanctions?

Hans-Peter Portmann (PLR/ZH) notes that SECO and FINMA have asked Swiss banks to nominate sanctioned Russian citizens with whom they do business. “The financial center had already made its own arrangements, he says, and categorically rejects accusations of evading sanctions.” He adds that “it can be assumed that most of the funds belonging to sanctioned Russian citizens are located abroad”. He wants to know, however, “how many Russian citizens affected by the sanctions have been reported and whose accounts have not yet been blocked?”

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