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Switzerland Drops Neutrality In Rare Move To Freeze Russian Assets

(Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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Switzerland announced Monday it will be freezing Russian assets due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, breaking a longstanding tradition of neutrality in foreign conflicts.

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said Putin’s assets, along with those of Russia’s prime minister, foreign minister and 367 more individuals sanctioned by the European Union, would be frozen immediately, according to The New York Times. Cassis met with the Swiss Federal Council and determined that action was necessary due to the “unprecedented” aggression displayed by Russia in invading a sovereign European state.

Switzerland further joined the rest of the E.U. in shutting down its airspace to Russian aircraft, but said it will decide whether to join further European sanctions on a case-by-case basis.

The flight ban will prevent Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from making a planned speech Tuesday to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. As of 2020, Russian companies and citizens owned more than $11 billion in assets in Swiss banks, according to the NYT. (RELATED: ‘When You Reach Kyiv You Will Be F*cked’: Ukrainian Soldiers Deliver Message To Russians)

Switzerland has historically maintained a neutral stance in global conflicts, in part due to its role as a global financial hub. Cassis said he was concerned that following along with all European sanctions could threaten the country’s reputation, but that some action was necessary.