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Switzerland agrees to represent Ukraine’s interests in Russia, but Moscow is hostile

Wednesday, 10 August 2022, 20:25
Switzerland agrees to represent Ukraine’s interests in Russia, but Moscow is hostile


Ukraine and Switzerland have concluded talks on the possibility of Switzerland representing Ukraine’s interests in Russia in the wake of Ukraine breaking off diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation.

European Pravda reported on the agreement between Ukraine and Switzerland, quoting Michael Steiner, Head of Media at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).


"Ukraine would like Switzerland to assume the mandate of a protecting power in Russia. The relevant negotiations have been completed. For the mandate of a protecting power to take effect, Russia has to give its consent," Steiner said.

The FDFA representative emphasised that Switzerland has been active in offering its services since the beginning of the war. In particular, the country has offered to host and support negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.

The "mandate of a protecting power" means that Switzerland could represent Ukraine’s diplomatic interests in Russia in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.


Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, explained that "[Ukraine] has chosen Switzerland because of its extensive experience in performing such a role, and we are grateful to the Swiss government for their willingness to offer their services."

Nikolenko noted that hundreds and thousands of Ukrainian citizens – especially children – who had been illegally taken from cities and villages in parts of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian army are in need of help, but Ukrainian diplomats are no longer present on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Nikolenko clarified that the exact ways in which Switzerland will represent Ukraine’s interests in the Russian Federation will be determined by a bilateral agreement.

According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, an international agreement governing treaties between states, Russia must give its consent for Switzerland to represent Ukraine in the host state [Russia - ed.].

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Moscow has had no contact with the government of Switzerland regarding its representation of Ukraine’s interests in the Russian Federation.

"Sergei Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, has previously said that Russia is not prepared to consider offers to facilitate negotiations with Ukraine mae by countries that have signed on to anti-Russian sanctions," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, as quoted in Kommersant [a Russian media outlet - ed.].

The Russian Foreign Ministry added that Switzerland's neutrality "has been somewhat devalued" after Bern signed on to all seven EU sanctions packages against Russia, which Russia deemed "practically equivalent to taking a side in the conflict".

The Russian statement also recalls that Russia has included Switzerland on "the list of unfriendly powers alongside the EU and some other countries".

"In light of this, we believe that it is difficult to talk about Bern’s involvement in any issues touching on Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier: Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation, said that Ukraine had appealed for Switzerland’s help with providing consular services to Ukrainian citizens in Russia.

Switzerland is already representing Georgian citizens in Russia since the Georgian government broke off diplomatic relations with Moscow following the Russian military invasion in Georgia in 2008. The Swiss embassy in Tbilisi has a department representing the interests of Russians, and the Swiss embassy in Moscow is representing the interests of Georgian citizens.


  • On 24 February, the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine announced that it was breaking off diplomatic ties with Russia.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine recalled Vasyl Pokotylo, the temporary chargé d'affaires of Ukraine in the Russian Federation, to Kyiv for consultations and evacuated the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow.
  • Ukraine maintains consular ties with Russia in accordance with Article 2 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

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