UN Security Council: Emergency meeting on the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam

Switzerland condemns Russia's military intervention against Ukraine and urges Russia to immediately cease military aggression and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. At the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano, Switzerland and Ukraine, together with numerous international partners, drew up the "Lugano Declaration". The document provides a framework for the political process of Ukraine's reconstruction. This commitment was underlined by a visit of the Federal President to Kyiv and a meeting with President Zelenskyy in October 2022. Information about Switzerland's commitment in the newsfeed.

President Cassis shakes hands with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

During his visit to Kyiv on 20 October 2022, President Ignazio Cassis met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. © FDFA

06.06.2023 – UN Security Council: Emergency meeting on the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam

The UN Security Council met on 6 June for an emergency session to discuss the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine. Switzerland expressed its deep concern about these new developments, which place an additional burden on the civilian population marked by Russia's ongoing military aggression. They further increase the burden on the civilian population suffering from Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke out yesterday via a media release, stating that the extent of the damage was still difficult to determine, but it was already clear that we are facing a humanitarian, economic and environmental catastrophe".

Huge masses of water flow through the breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine.
The breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam threatens massive flooding that could displace tens of thousands of people in Ukraine's Kherson oblast. © Keystone

Thousands of people are affected by this disaster. In addition to the devastating short-term consequences in southern Ukraine, serious long-term consequences must also be expected. "Switzerland is concerned about the risks that massive flooding could pose to the environment, as well as to energy and food security, including water supplies," Adrian Dominik Hauri told the Security Council in New York.

This event is a sad example of the connection between water and the protection of civilians, which the UN Security Council, at the request of Switzerland and Mozambique, has already addressed in detail in March 2023. In particular, the fresh water supply in southern Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, depends to a large extent on the Nova Kakhovka dam. There are also large agricultural areas in these regions. In this crisis situation, the protection of the civilian population must be paramount, as required by international humanitarian law. The protection of the environment in armed conflicts is also of central importance. Switzerland is ready to fully support the immediate response of the UN and humanitarian partners who, in coordination with the Ukrainian government, are doing everything in their power to provide vital assistance, including ensuring the supply of drinking water. All parties to the conflict are obliged to ensure humanitarian access to all persons in need of assistance.

The Nova Kakhovka dam is also central to the cooling system of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, on which the Security Council recently discussed during Switzerland's presidency under the leadership of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. The "seven pillars" defined by Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), state, among other things, that the integrity of the plant and logistical supplies must be guaranteed at all times.

In view of the urgency and seriousness of the situation, Switzerland underlined in the Council that attacks on civilian infrastructure are unacceptable. International humanitarian law prohibits attacks on civilian objects and provides special protection for dams. Switzerland calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Once again, Switzerland condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately de-escalate the situation, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay.

30.05.2023 – Switzerland advocates for the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant

Chaired by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the UN Security Council discussed on 30 May 2023 the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the presence of Ukraine. "We are all aware of the risks to the civilian population when a nuclear power plant is located in a war zone. It is our duty to protect the civilian population," Federal Councillor Cassis said in New York. 

We are all aware of the risks to the civilian population when a nuclear power plant is located in a war zone. It is our duty to protect the civilian population
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

At the briefing, IAEA Director General Grossi presented five principles to the Council for the protection of the nuclear power plant in south-eastern Ukraine:

  1. no attacks of any kind from or against the nuclear power plant;
  2. no storage or stationing of heavy weapons or military personel at the plant;
  3. no threat to the offsite power supply;
  4. protection of all systems necessary for safe operation against attacks or acts of sabotage;
  5.  no action that undermines these principles.

During the meeting, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and any attacks against civilian infrastructure. Switzerland again called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. It welcomed the IAEA's commitment to protecting civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine and called on all Council members to support the five principles proposed by the IAEA for protecting the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Federal Councillor Cassis called on Russia and Ukraine in particular to fully implement these five principles.

In consultation with the IAEA and the other Council members, Swiss diplomacy has been working in recent weeks to ensure that the meeting takes place. Switzerland recalled that the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is a matter of respect for international humanitarian law. Respecting and promoting this law is a priority for Switzerland and a pillar of its Good Offices.

We are committed to protecting civilian populations: it is with this commitment that we have taken the Presidency of this Council.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Today's meeting is thematically linked to the Federal Council's priorities for Switzerland's seat on the Security Council. During the presidential month of May, several meetings were chaired by members of the Federal Council. On 3 and 4 May, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired an open debate focusing on mutual trust and a meeting on the cooperation between the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). On 23 May, President Alain Berset emphasised in the Council that the protection of civilians in armed conflict must not only exist on paper, but also be increasingly implemented in practice. For her part, Federal Councillor Viola Amherd chaired a session on the financing of peace missions in Africa on 25 May. Today's session will focus on the protection of civilians from nuclear disasters. With these and other geographical and thematic meetings, the Federal Council is on track in implementing its priorities. Overall, Switzerland draws a positive conclusion from this first Council Presidency.

Five principles for ensuring nuclear safety at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, IAEA (IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi) 

Address by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis 

News ticker: Switzerland's commitment for Ukraine 

13.04.2023 – Switzerland supports Ukraine by sending ambulances

Five second-hand ambulances were handed over to local NGOs in Kyiv, donated to Ukraine by the Canton of Basel-Stadt and the City of Zurich, with a further delivery planned for summer 2023. Switzerland is thus continuing its long-term support for Ukraine. The FDFA’s Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), financed and organized the shipments. After being handed over by the Swiss Embassy in Kyiv to the local NGOs SMARTA and Caritas Ukraine, the ambulances will be used in hospitals in Kharkiv oblast and the city of Kramatorsk.

Press release

Switzerland delivered five second-hand ambulances to local NGOs in Ukraine.
Switzerland delivered five second-hand ambulances to local NGOs in Ukraine. © FDFA

24.02.2023 – UN Security Council: Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of Geneva Conventions and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, took part in a high-level UN Security Council debate in New York on 24 February 2023. Mr Cassis called for the withdrawal of Russia's armed forces present on Ukraine's sovereign territory for a year and for respect of the Geneva Conventions. He also underscored Switzerland's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"After a year of war, we must combine our strengths, ideas and resources to restore a sense of security in Europe and ensure a return to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine," said Mr Cassis before the Security Council.

As a permanently neutral country, Switzerland fully respects its obligations under the law of neutrality. It does not favour any of the belligerents militarily. Still, as Mr Cassis recalled, "neutrality does not mean indifference to violations of international law". He stressed that "Switzerland stands ready to bring all parties to the table in order to bolster respect for international humanitarian law and ultimately achieve peace."

Federal Councillor Cassis sits at a table and looks at a large screen showing a woman giving a speech.
During his stay in New York, Federal Councillor Cassis took part virtually in a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on the subject of Ukraine. © FDFA

23.02.2023 – UN General Assembly: Ignazio Cassis condemns Russian aggression and calls for path to lasting peace in Ukraine

Mr Cassis is at the United Nations headquarters in New York this weekend, one year after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. He is taking part in an emergency special session of the General Assembly, as well as in a Security Council debate. This serves as an occasion for him to reiterate Switzerland's strong condemnation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, still under way, and to call for an immediate end to the conflict and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine's sovereign territory.

Federal Councillor Cassis stands at the lectern and speaks. The UN logo can be seen in the foreground.
Federal Councillor Cassis addresses the UN General Assembly. © FDFA

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by a large majority (141 votes), with Mr Cassis in attendance. The resolution calls on states and international organisations to strengthen their support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in keeping with the UN Charter, and on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

"With today's resolution, we are sending out a strong message of peace and respect for the principles that unite us," said Mr Cassis before the General Assembly. The new text calls on UN member states and international organisations to strengthen their support for peace. For Mr Cassis, who stressed his appeal to the entire international community "to work hand in hand towards a peaceful settlement of this conflict," it is a clear signal from the international community to Russia.

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Press release

22.02.2023 – One year of war against Ukraine: Federal Council takes stock of its engagement and requests new aid package

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine. One year after the military aggression began, the Federal Council expresses its solidarity with the war-stricken population, takes stock of its engagement and requests, at its meeting of 22 February 2023, the immediate release of a new aid package totalling CHF 140 million.

The aid envisaged in this emergency package builds on Switzerland's engagement in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. It is a targeted response to needs and requests from both countries in areas where Switzerland has specific expertise. The lines of action include shelter for schools, repairs to hospitals and energy infrastructure, small loans to agricultural SMEs, demining, psychosocial support for the population, and more.

Press release

War against Ukraine – measures taken by the Confederation since 24 February 2022

25.01.2023 – Swiss Army winter equipment for the Ukrainian population

Switzerland continues its aid deliveries for the Ukrainian population and delivers around 390 pallets of winter equipment. The Swiss army is providing the Ukrainian population with protective clothing against the cold from its stock. This includes around 170,000 pairs of gloves, 40,000 pairs of socks and 2,000 blankets.

A Swiss army member pushes pallets of boxes into a truck.
A Swiss army member loads pallets of winter clothes into a truck. © VBS/DDPS

The military material left the army logistics centre in Othmarsingen on 25 January 2023 and will be transported by truck to Kyiv (Kiev) in three days. The delivery is being made under the lead of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Last December, heating equipment and generators had already been delivered to Ukraine for the upcoming winter. The transport is being organised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The equipment will be handed over to the Ukrainian Civil Defence, which will distribute it to the population.

18.01.2023 – From Lugano to London: United Kingdom organises Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023

The Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC) held in Lugano last July will be resumed in London in 2023. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, in the presence of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's State Secretary, Oleksandr Bankov, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis has officially handed over responsibility for preparing the next URC to UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grant Shapps. The head of the FDFA recalled the Lugano Principles and described them as a compass pointing the way to Ukraine's recovery even in dark times.

Federal Councillor Cassis, British Minister Grant Shapps and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's State Secretary, Oleksandr Bankov, stand next to each other and hold a document together.
Federal Councillor Cassis officially hands over responsibility for preparing the next Ukraine Recovery Conference to UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grant Shapps. © Keystone

"The decisions taken in Lugano will be followed up in London," said Mr Cassis, as he officially handed over responsibility for preparing the next URC to UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grant Shapps. The main focus in Lugano was on post-war reconstruction, giving hope to people in Ukraine, said Federal Councillor Cassis. "I believe we need a compass to guide us, even in the dark times we are currently experiencing," he added. "The Lugano Declaration serves as that compass."

Press release

17.01.2023 – Reconstruction of Ukraine is a priority for Federal Councillor Cassis at the WEF

The World Economic Forum (WEF) will take place from 17 to 19 January 2023. For Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the situation in Ukraine and the continuation of Switzerland's commitment to the reconstruction of Ukraine will be a focus of his talks in Davos. On 18 January 2023, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) will hold the Ukraine Recovery Conference handover event "From Lugano to London" together with representatives of the United Kingdom and Ukraine. The United Kingdom will take the lead in preparing the next Ukraine Recovery Conference. Federal Councillor Cassis will also take part in events dealing with the war in Ukraine and its global consequences.

Federal Councillor Cassis and Olena Zelenska sit opposite each other and speak to each other.
Federal Councillor Cassis talking with Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. © FDFA

23.12.2022 – Trucks transport mobile heaters from Bern to Ukraine

Shortly before Christmas, several trucks set off from Bern on their way to Ukraine. They are transporting 40 mobile heaters and 40 generators to the people suffering from the war and the cold. After their arrival, the devices will be handed over to the Ukrainian Civil Protection Unit.

The heaters and generators can be used in tents or large rooms where the inhabitants can warm up. The material was assembled in Switzerland by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) that is also organising the transport. The dispatch of additional relief material is currently being examined.

 In a warehouse, a box with a picture of a mobile heater on a pallet is in the foreground. In the background are more pallets on which packed electricity generators are placed.
Mobile heaters and power generators are ready for transport to Ukraine. © FDFA

With this delivery, Switzerland is responding to the precarious situation of the people in Ukraine, which has been exacerbated by the Russian army's attacks on civilian infrastructure. Many people are without electricity and heating due to the targeted attacks on the country's energy infrastructure. Access to drinking water or telecommunications has also been interrupted in many places.

Switzerland has therefore been supporting Ukraine with relief supplies for weeks. Among other things, fire-fighting equipment has been delivered to the Ukrainian Civil Protection Unit and staff trained in the use of fire-fighting vehicles (see video). A week ago, several trucks also transported generators to Ukraine.

The video shows the arrival of fire-fighting vehicles in Ukraine and the instruction of members of the Ukrainian Civil Protection Unit by Swiss experts.

A week ago, several trucks also transported power generators to Ukraine.

Electricity generators are to help people in Ukraine fight the cold. The video shows how they are prepared for transport.

13.12.2022 – President Cassis attends conference in support of Ukraine

Russian attacks have destroyed around half of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, leaving people without access to drinking water and disrupting power and telecommunications in many areas. The winter conditions are making the already dire situation of the Ukrainian people even worse. France and Ukraine convened the conference on civilian resilience in Ukraine to explore ways to get short-term aid to people affected by the war.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis listening to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, who can be seen on the video screen.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the conference in Paris listening to an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. © FDFA

President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis attended the conference in Paris focusing on specific humanitarian relief efforts to help the Ukrainian people get through winter. The discussion, which was led by France and Ukraine, focused on specific action on power, water, food security, healthcare and transport over the next four months. The discussion extended beyond the broad-based recovery of Ukraine, which started at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano in July and was resumed at the Berlin Conference.

In Paris, President Cassis stressed that people in Ukraine urgently needed help. During a visit to Kyiv in October 2022, he had seen first-hand the destruction caused by Russia's attacks. He referred to the Federal Council's decision regarding the winter aid action package for Ukraine, which had been approved by Parliament. The CHF 100 million package will enable emergency repairs to be made to energy infrastructure and help many Ukrainians prepare for the winter. In addition, trucks from Switzerland carrying 30 generators are currently on their way to Ukraine.

At the conference, Mr Cassis stressed that countries need to coordinate their assistance for Ukraine properly to ensure that it is effective. The current relief efforts are also based on the Lugano Principles and Mr Cassis welcomed the platform recently adopted by the G7 for the coordination of donor support. He also highlighted the importance of good coordination in building trust, noting that "trust can be won on the ground by undertaking joint projects and implementing genuine and ambitious reforms."

Address by the President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis

Press release

25.10.2022 – President Cassis attends Berlin Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine

President Ignazio Cassis attended the International Expert Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine, which was held in Berlin at the invitation of the German G7 Presidency and the European Commission. The conference addressed how to ensure the success of Ukraine’s sustainable and inclusive reconstruction. The framework for the political process of reconstruction is the Lugano Declaration, an outcome of the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022).


Press release

Ignazio Cassis speaks during the conference in Berlin.
Last July in Lugano, Switzerland and Ukraine, with the support of their international partners, presented the Lugano Declaration. © FDFA

20.10.2022 – President Cassis meets President Zelenskyy and discusses Ukraine recovery

One year after his last visit, Mr Cassis has travelled to Ukraine again in order to gain a first-hand impression of the situation and humanitarian needs on the ground, and to discuss with the Ukrainian co-organisers of URC2022 how recovery in the war-torn country can be implemented and advanced. During the meeting with President Zelenskyy, the main topics discussed were the situation in the country, namely Russian airstrikes on residential areas in Ukraine, the current situation on the front lines and the challenges of the approaching winter. The two presidents also discussed Swiss support for Ukraine at the bilateral and multilateral level.

President Cassis and the Swiss delegation during the political talks with President Selenskyi and the Ukrainian delegation.
The current situation in Ukraine and Swiss support for Ukraine were at the centre of the political talks between President Cassis and President Zelenskyy. © FDFA

Concrete implementation of the Lugano Principles

During his visit to Kyiv, Mr Cassis also met Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, with whom he had hosted URC2022 in Lugano three months ago. The focus of the conversation was on the follow-up to the conference and how the basic parameters of recovery agreed at URC2022 can be effectively implemented for Ukraine. "I would have preferred to return here in different circumstances. But right now it is more important than ever to be here. Together with the Ukrainian government, we are assessing in concrete terms what the most pressing humanitarian needs are. We are also keen to support innovative Ukrainian efforts for the nation's recovery.

President Ignazio Cassis talking to a family that has benefited from Swiss support in Ukraine.
President Cassis talks to a family in a suburb of Kyiv who have a roof over their heads again thanks to Switzerland's support. © FDFA

During his trip, Mr Cassis visited suburbs of Kyiv where the consequences of the war are visible, but where effective reconstruction is also taking place. While in Kyiv, he also met representatives of civil society to exchange on concrete efforts for recovery. The Lugano Principles negotiated at URC2022 provide for the active participation of the population in the recovery process in order to ensure a sustainable and fair outcome.

Press release

10.08.2022 – Switzerland delivers an additional 100 tonnes of humanitarian supplies

Switzerland is continuing to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The FDFA has organised several convoys carrying 100 tonnes of supplies, including medical and sanitation equipment. These operations are part of the support efforts undertaken by the federal government since the start of the war. In cooperation with the DDPS, the FDFA has delivered over 5,300 tonnes of emergency aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries since March.

Press release 

06.07.2022 – The conference in pictures 

URC22 video streams

All video streams from URC2022 in English and Ukrainian are available on  YouTube:

Playlist URC2022

Further information and links


More information on URC22

05.07.2022 – Second day of URC2022: the Lugano Declaration

URC2022 - The second day in a video:

Switzerland and Ukraine compiled, with the support of their international partners, the Lugano Declaration. The document provides a framework for the political process of Ukraine's reconstruction and sets out the Lugano Principles as common benchmarks for the future.

Outcome Document of the Ukraine Recovery Conference URC2022 “Lugano Declaration” (PDF, 3 Pages, 88.0 kB, English)

"What we have achieved yesterday and today is condensed into the Lugano Declaration. With the support of international partners, Switzerland and Ukraine have drawn up a document that forms a framework for the political process of reconstruction," explained President Cassis.

Press release

Graphic on the Lugano Principles.
The Lugano Declaration sets out the Lugano Principles as common benchmarks for the future. © FDFA

The second day of URC2022 opened with the national and institutional statements.

Speech - National Statement by Switzerland: Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022)

An economic forum was organised by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) together with Ukraine. It was opened by President Cassis, Prime Minister Shmyhal and the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch.

Speech of Ignazio Cassis, president of the Swiss Confederation

04.07.2022 – First URC2022 Day

The President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, via video link from Kyiv, and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in person in Lugano, opened the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) to launch the reconstruction process at the international level. “A prerequisite for success is that the original conference idea (institutional reforms) and the current conference idea (targeted reconstruction) form a whole", explained President Cassis in his speech.

Speech of Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation

Press release

The first day of URC2022 focused on Ukraine's reconstruction and development plan and the contributions of international partners, with particular attention given to the principles of reconstruction. The programme included also separate working sessions on requirements in the areas of the economy, social affairs, digitalisation, infrastructure and environmental protection.

UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced that the next conference in this framework will be organised by the UK together with Ukraine. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen presented the initiative for a reconstruction platform and declared the Lugano Principles to be the cornerstone for the next stages of the process.

URC2022 – The first day in a video

03.07.2022 – Final preparations for the conference

Impressions of the preparation in Lugano.

01.07.2022 – URC2022 objectives and themes summarised

There are only a few days left until the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022), which will bring together in Lugano on 4 and 5 July 2022 representatives of states and international organisations willing to work for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The goals and topics are summarised in an infographic.

Four people from Italian-speaking Switzerland voice their thoughts on the importance of this conference and their own contribution to peace. Solidarity, dialogue and exchange are the key words here.

URC2022: Four voices coming from Italian-speaking Switzerland

20.06.2022 - President Cassis presents in Bellinzona plans for URC2022

At their traditional meeting, President Ignazio Cassis and the government of Ticino held discussions on preparations for the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022). President Cassis briefed the media today in Bellinzona together with Ticino Cantonal Councillor Norman Gobbi, Police Commander Matteo Cocchi and representatives from the armed forces and fedpol.

The conference will address the current proposals for Ukraine's reconstruction and the contribution that can be made by international partners. The agenda includes in particular the priorities, methods and principles of reconstruction. At the end of the two-day event, a declaration outlining the most important outcomes of the conference is to be presented.

The media conference of 20 June 2022 in Bellinzona in video form. © Repubblica e Cantone Ticino, SIC

24.05.2022 – Ukraine Conference in Lugano to focus on recovery

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine on 24 February, Switzerland and Ukraine decided to realign the scheduled 5th Ukraine Reform Conference and dedicate it instead to the country’s recovery; the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) will take place in Lugano on 4-5 July. Invitations were sent out last week to around 40 states and 18 international organisations. President Ignazio Cassis, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gave a briefing about the aims of the conference on the fringes of the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos on Tuesday, 24 May.

Press release

President Cassis and Foreign Minister Kuleba greet each other in front of the Congress Centre building in Davos.
President Cassis welcomes the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to bilateral talks. © FDFA

23.05.2022 – Switzerland has shown itself to be cooperative as a neutral country

In connection with the war in Ukraine, Switzerland has shown itself to be cooperative as a neutral country. President Cassis underscored this in his opening remarks at the World Economic Forum. As a neutral country, Switzerland is committed to

  • strengthening its own and shared fundamental values,
  • securing its own and joint peace efforts,
  • and a rules-based, stable security architecture that can only be achieved multilaterally.

Russia's military aggression against Ukraine is a serious violation of basic norms of international law, and Switzerland has thus adopted the EU's sanctions against Russia.

President Cassis stands at the lectern and speaks. In the background is a blue wall with "World Economic Forum" written on it.
President Cassis during his opening speech in Davos. © World Economic Forum

Even if the end of the war is not yet in sight, our focus should be on the path to reconstruction and settling the economic consequences of the war, said the head of the FDFA. The Ukraine Recovery Conference will take place in Lugano at the beginning of July. "This conference should be the starting signal for the reconstruction of Ukraine," said Cassis.

In his speech, he also emphasised the need for focused multilateralism. A targeted strengthening of multilateralism and a return to core tasks is the right way to tackle issues that have a global impact and cannot be solved in isolation. These include issues such as the climate emergency and extreme poverty, as well as global economic crises, energy supply and mass migration. 

Opening remarks: «Reality is multilateral»

Address by Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation - WEF – Open

19.05.2022 – Switzerland reopens its embassy in Kyiv

Two and a half months after the temporary closure, Switzerland is reopening its embassy in Ukraine: five FDFA staff will return to Kyiv over the next few days. This decision is based on an in-depth analysis of the security situation in the Ukrainian capital.

Press release

15.05.2022 – Manuel Bessler visits Ukraine

Manuel Bessler, head of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, travelled to Ukraine from 12 to 15 May. Accompanied by a Swiss delegation and some representatives of the Swiss Embassy in Kyiv, he visited the newly opened Humanitarian Aid Office in Lviv. He also inspected projects supported by Switzerland in the region. A meeting was also held with the local authorities. 

03.05.2022 – Phone call between President of the Confederation Ignazio Cassis and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken

"A substantial phone call on key bilateral and regional issues." This is how President Ignazio Cassis described his telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Twitter on 3 May. Among the topics discussed were the situation in Ukraine and Afghanistan. Finally, the conversation was an opportunity to reiterate both sides' commitment to peace and security.

27.04.2022 – Further EU sanctions against Russia implemented

In view of Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine, the Federal Council enacted further sanctions against Russia and Belarus on 27 April. The new measures include far-reaching sanctions on goods, including a ban on imports of lignite and coal as well as on goods that are important sources of revenue for Russia (e.g. timber, cement, seafood, caviar). In addition, there are export bans on goods that can help strengthen Russia's industrial capacities (e.g. industrial robots or certain chemical products). Further sanctions also come into force in the financial sector.

In order for Switzerland to be able to fulfil its international obligations to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Ordinance now provides for an exemption for the export of special military goods. This is to enable Switzerland to export NBC protective equipment under a request for assistance from the OPCW.

Press release The Federal Council

08.04.2022 – Swiss food shipment reaches Odesa

Switzerland has launched a series of aid shipments for the needy population in Ukraine. In cooperation with her Ukrainian partner Astarta-Kyiv, yesterday Switzerland handed over a first consignment of oil, sugar, flour, corn and powdered milk purchased on the Ukrainian market. This action was taken at the request of the authorities of the city of Odesa, who are working on establishing strategic reserves to ensure food distribution to vulnerable population in case of a potential blockade of the city.

The delivery of the food was welcomed by the Mayor of Odesa in the presence of a team from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA). Since last week, an SHA team from Moldova had travelled to Ukraine several times to prepare a series of deliveries amounting to 1400 tons of food products for Odesa in cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities.

Press release

08.04.2022 – German-speaking foreign ministers address joint appeal to Russia

At the invitation of Liechtenstein's Minister of Foreign Affairs, the annual meeting of foreign ministers from the five German-speaking countries took place today in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Their discussions focused on the current situation in Ukraine and its geopolitical consequences, and the humanitarian crisis created by the Russian attack on Ukraine. The five German-speaking foreign ministers jointly appeal to Russia to immediately end all use of force in Ukraine and to withdraw its troops unconditionally. "As part of the European community of values, we work side by side with our neighbours and the EU for stability, security and prosperity. It is in the interest of the entire continent that the conflict be resolved as soon as possible," said the head of the FDFA during the meeting. With the joint appeal, the five German-speaking countries underline their like-minded stance on the war in Ukraine.

Press release

22.03.2022 – President Ignazio Cassis meets Moldova's President Maia Sandu in Chisinau and talks with members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit about caring for refugees from Ukraine

The day after his visit to Poland, President Cassis held political talks in Moldova and got a picture of the situation of refugees from Ukraine. In the capital Chisinau, he held bilateral talks with President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița. He expressed appreciation for Moldova's generous reception of refugees from Ukraine. During the meetings, the need for a coordinated European approach to refugee movements from Ukraine was also raised.

President Cassis talks to members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) about the care of refugees from Ukraine at a transit centre in Chisinau.

Switzerland is also helping on the ground, a Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) Rapid Response Team having been deployed to Moldova on 7 March. Fourteen SHA members are currently serving in the country. In a transit centre for refugees, which President Cassis and Prime Minister Gavrilița visited together on Tuesday, a Swiss health team including a paediatrician, a midwife and a nurse is helping to provide basic care for mothers and their children from Ukraine.

Press release

21.03.2022 – President Cassis meets with Prime Minister Morawiecki in Poland and is briefed at the border about the situation on the ground

On Monday, 21 March, President Ignazio Cassis met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw, where they discussed the crisis triggered by the Russian attack on Ukraine – in particular, the humanitarian emergency in Ukraine, refugee movements, the situation in Poland and Switzerland's humanitarian aid.

President Cassis then travelled to the Ukrainian-Polish border in Dorohusk, where he visited a refugee reception centre and Switzerland's transfer point for humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine. 

Press release

14.03.2022 – Solidarity drive for Ukraine: steps to follow to ensure that the aid reaches those in need

The generosity in support of the people of Ukraine is evident in towns and cantons throughout Switzerland. However, in order for this surge of solidarity to best meet the needs of the Ukrainian population, the SDC would like to draw attention to various aspects. A number of steps must be taken to ensure that the different types of aid provided to Ukraine respond to genuine needs. Please follow these brief steps:

Solidarity drive for Ukraine: aid that meets needs (PDF, 1 Page, 39.2 kB, English)

11.03.2022 – Federal Council approves CHF 80 million for Swiss humanitarian aid in Ukraine and wider region

Around 12 million people are dependent on emergency aid because of Russia's ongoing military intervention in Ukraine. At its meeting of 11 March, the Federal Council decided to increase humanitarian aid to Ukraine and the wider region to CHF 80 million.

Press release

11.03.2022 – Overflight requests from parties to the conflict and other states which have the purpose of providing military support to the parties to the conflict shall not be approved

Against the background of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Federal Council has examined how Switzerland should deal with overflight requests in the context of the armed conflict. At its meeting on 11 March 2022, it decided that the following overflights would not be authorized:

  • Overflights by military aircraft of the parties to the conflict that serve a military purpose;
  • Overflights by military aircraft of other states whose purpose is to provide military support to one of the parties to the conflict, namely with the delivery of war material.

Exempted from this non-authorisation are overflights by both military aircraft of the parties to the conflict and other states that serve a humanitarian or medical purpose, including the transport of wounded persons.

Press release (fr)

09.03.2022 – National Solidarity Day

Federal President Ignazio Cassis opened the fundraising day today by answering the first calls for support for the people of Ukraine.

In the evening, he took part in the donation campaign on the Bundesplatz in Bern and expressed his enthusiasm for the sympathy shown by the Swiss population.

Three little girls throw coins into the donation pot.
Even the youngest do their bit to help people in Ukraine. © FDFA

09.03.2022 – Church bells ringing in Switzerland: a call for pause for peace

Church bells rang out in unison in Switzerland at 10:00 today. The Switzerland’s Bishops' Conference, Protestant Reformed Church and Christian Catholic Church invited the population to a moment of recollection. The action was also supported by the President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis, the President of the National Council Irène Kälin, and the President of the Council of States, Thomas Hefti.

The President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis participated at this pause for peace from Neuhausen, Canton Schaffhausen.

08.03.2022 – President Cassis calls for solidarity with the Ukrainian people

On occasion of the National Solidarity Day in favour of the people of Ukraine, President Cassis has addressed the Swiss people. In a time of war, "it is important that we stand together and show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people who have been hit so hard", he said. On Swiss Solidarity's national donation day, the people of Switzerland could send a corresponding signal.

President Cassis addressed the people of Switzerland via television and radio. (French)

President Cassis underlined, that Switzerland is on the side of the law and against injustice, on the side of humanity and against barbarism, and on the side of a democracy that was being attacked without cause. "We do this as a neutral country, but not as an idle country. We do not intervene militarily, but we protect international law, we protect victims and we protect values, our own values," he said. "Acting in this way is compatible with our neutrality! To act in this way is to show solidarity."

The President of the Confederation was impressed by how many people in Switzerland are willing to take in refugees and how many have already made spontaneous donations. He also called for Russians not to be condemned solely because of their nationality. "Many of them do not want this war," he said.

Statement by Ignazio Cassis, President of the Confederation (fr)

07.03.2022 – Switzerland steps up humanitarian aid for Ukraine

A fourth consignment of relief supplies to meet people's daily needs is departing from Switzerland today (Monday) by rail for Poland and the Ukrainian border. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has set up a hub for relief supplies in the Polish city of Lublin in order to coordinate its support for the Ukrainian population. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit has dispatched an additional rapid response team to Moldova. During this first phase of the relief operation, Swiss Humanitarian Aid's support package is initially set at 8 million Swiss francs.

Today's rail consignment is the fourth delivery of relief supplies to the Ukrainian population in the space of one week. Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is part of the FDFA, will decide on and organise further deliveries of humanitarian aid in the coming days based on requests for assistance and capacity.

Switzerland is providing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Ukraine with half a million Swiss francs and the UN with a quarter of a million. It is contributing a further 6.5 million to the UN and other international organisations.

Press release

04.03.2022 – Switzerland's national churches show solidarity: Presidents of Swiss Confederation, National Council and Council of States call for pause for peace

As a sign of solidarity with the people affected by the war in Ukraine, all church bells in Switzerland will ring for three minutes at 10am on 9 March. Switzerland's Bishops' Conference, Protestant Reformed Church and Christian Catholic Church are asking the country's population to pause for peace during the three minutes. President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis, together with National Council President Irène Kälin and Council of States President Thomas Hefti, is supporting this campaign.

Press release

02.03.2022 – President Cassis: "I am proud of the Swiss people’s solidarity "

On the private radio donation day in aid of refugees from Ukraine, President Cassis underlined that Switzerland is willing to provide humanitarian aid without red tape.

In an interview with Radio Energy, President Cassis says he is touched by the many examples that show the great willingness to help in Switzerland.

Interview with Radio Energy

In a video statement, President Cassis calls for compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of the civilian population in Ukraine.

01.03.2022 – Switzerland sends humanitarian aid to Ukrainian population

Switzerland is delivering around 25 tonnes of relief supplies to the Ukrainian population. Swiss Humanitarian Aid will transport urgently needed materials and medical supplies from the Armed Forces Pharmacy to Poland. The aid supplies are part of Switzerland's overall support package worth around CHF 8 million.

Press release

01.03.2022 – Talks with the Foreign Ministers of Spain and Canada

President Ignazio Cassis spoke on the phone with Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Jolie and Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno. The talks focused on the situation in Ukraine.

28.02.2022 – Swiss Embassy in Kyiv temporarily closed

Due to the threatening security situation in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the Swiss Embassy has been temporarily closed as of 28 February 2022. The remaining Swiss staff (5 persons, including the Swiss ambassador) have left Kyiv. The FDFA recommends that Swiss nationals in Ukraine leave the country by their own means if possible and safe to do so. Otherwise, they are advised to stay in a safe place. The instructions of the local authorities must be observed and the necessary precautions taken. Swiss nationals requiring assistance should contact by phone the FDFA Helpline.

28.02.2022 – Statement of the Federal President in the National Council on the situation in Ukraine

President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, during his statement in the National Council on the situation in Ukraine.

28.02.2022 – Switzerland adopts EU sanctions against Russia

Four members of the Federal Council sit at a large podium. Media representatives are seated opposite them.
Members of the Federal Council explain the decision to impose tougher sanctions on Russia. © Keystone

Russia's unprecedented military attack on a sovereign European country was the deciding factor in the Federal Council's decision to change its previous stance on sanctions. At its extraordinary meeting on 28 February, the Federal Council took the decision to adopt the EU sanctions against Russia and thus strengthen their impact. These are primarily goods and financial sanctions. The assets of the persons and companies listed in the annex to the ordinance are frozen with immediate effect; the ban on entering into new business relationships remains in place.

Switzerland is also implementing the financial sanctions imposed by the EU on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with immediate effect. In so doing, Switzerland is responding to the serious violations of international law for which these individuals are responsible. The ban on imports, exports and investments concerning Crimea and Sevastopol, which has been in place since 2014, has been extended to the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are no longer under the control of the Ukrainian government.

The Federal Council has also decided to partially suspend the 2009 agreement on visa facilitation for Russian nationals. In addition – in line with airspace closures in other European countries – Swiss airspace will be closed to all flights from Russia and to all movements of aircraft with Russian markings from 3pm on Monday with the exception of flights for humanitarian, medical or diplomatic purposes.

In reaching its decisions, the Federal Council took Switzerland’s neutrality and peace policy considerations into account. It reaffirmed Switzerland's willingness to actively contribute to a solution to the conflict through its good offices.

Press release

28.02.2022 – Relief supplies for the people of Ukraine

Within the next few days, Switzerland will deliver around 25 tonnes of relief supplies to the Polish capital Warsaw worth around 400’000 Swiss francs, part of the first Swiss aid package amounting to 8 million Swiss francs. The Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) is providing urgently needed medical supplies and medicines from the Armed Forces Pharmacy. The relief supplies are intended for the Ukrainian population in Ukraine and in neighbouring states. Staff from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit will accompany the aid shipment.

28.02.2022 – Evacuated employees of the Embassy in Kyiv have arrived in Poland

The convoy with evacuees from Kyiv has recently arrived on Polish territory. All passengers are in good health. The convoy consists of eight employees of the Swiss Embassy, two accompanying persons and a small group of people with Swiss connections. The onward journey to Switzerland is organized by the Swiss Embassy in Warsaw. The convoy is accompanied by security specialists of the FDFA and members of the army, who had already supported the embassy in emergency planning before the evacuation.

28.02.2022 – Current situation in Ukraine is a topic at the Human Rights Council

President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, stands at a podium and speaks. Next to him is the flag of the UN.
President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, during his speech at the opening of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. © Keystone

Today, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, opened the 49th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. In his speech he addressed the current situation in Ukraine: "We are witnessing a development that most of us would not have thought possible. War is once again raging in the middle of Europe. I am deeply saddened that we have to observe this today in Geneva, the city of peace, human rights, humanitarian spirit and multilateralism."

President Cassis expressed sympathy with the millions of people affected by the war in Ukraine and reiterated that the Federal Council strongly condemns Russian aggression. He added that Switzerland calls on all parties involved in the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. He expressed his conviction "that the human rights institutions in Geneva can make an important contribution to the protection of human rights and international humanitarian law in Ukraine."

Address by President Cassis (fr)

26.02.2022 – President Ignazio Cassis on the phone with the President of Ukraine

Via Twitter, President Cassis expresses Switzerland's sympathy with the people of Ukraine.

25.02.2022 – Partial evacuation of the Swiss Embassy in Kyiv

Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, Kyiv
Building of the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, Kyiv © FDFA

Due to the deteriorating security situation, the FDFA decided to evacuate the transferable staff of the Embassy in Kyiv not needed on site.

Nine embassy employees were evacuated, as well as three accompanying persons who had remained on site. In addition, a small group of persons with a connection to Switzerland were evacuated.

25.02.2022 – Switzerland extends its measures

On 25 February 2022 the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER modified Annex 3 of the Ordinance on measures to prevent the circumvention of international sanctions in relation to the situation in Ukraine.

Annex 3 (Prohibition of new business relationships) is being extended in accordance with several decisions taken by the EU. This is to prevent a circumvention via Swiss territory of the targeted sanctions adopted by the EU on 21 and 23 February.

These modifications enter into force at 6pm today.

Press release

24.02.2022 – Federal Council holds extraordinary meeting on the situation in Ukraine

Today, President Cassis made a statement on Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. The Federal Council had previously discussed the situation in Ukraine in an extraordinary meeting and also made decisions regarding sanctions against Russia. The Federal Council condemns Russia's military intervention in the strongest possible terms. It calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

"Today is a sad day, a day we haven't seen for a long time. A day like we never wanted to see again. An armed conflict has begun on European ground. A situation that could not be prevented despite all diplomatic efforts. The current crisis does not only concern Russia and Ukraine. It affects the whole of Europe," President Cassis said in his statement.

The Head of the FDFA also addressed the situation at the Swiss Embassy in Kyiv in his statement. Due to the escalation of violence, the embassy has been closed until further notice, but remains accessible by phone. The transferable staff are working on the premises of the Embassy and will not be evacuated for the time being.

Statement by the President of the Swiss Confederation

24.02.2022 – Switzerland strongly condemns Russia's military intervention against Ukraine

 FDFA statement on Twitter
The FDFA condemns Russia's military intervention against Ukraine in the strongest terms. © FDFA

23.02.2022 – Federal Council condemns Russian action in violation of international law

The Federal Council discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine at its meeting of 23 February 2022. It condemns Russia's recognition of two regions as independent states as a violation of international law and a breach of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Federal Council wishes to ensure that Switzerland will not be used as a platform to circumnavigate sanctions imposed by the EU and is therefore examining the sanctions closely.

Press release

Die Anerkennung der zwei Republiken Donetsk und Luhansk durch Russland ist eine Verletzung der territorialen Integrität und der Souveränität der Ukraine. Russland verletzt dadurch internationales Völkerrecht. Dies unterstrich EDA-Staatssekretärin Livia Leu heute an einer Medienkonferenz. Die Schweiz verurteile diese Verletzungen der Souveränität und territorialen Integrität der Ukraine durch Russland. Sie anerkennt die Unabhängigkeit dieser Gebiete nicht, sie sind nach wie vor Teil des ukrainischen Staatsgebiets.

Mit der Unterzeichnung der Dekrete «über die Anerkennung der Donetsker und Luhansker sogenannten Volksrepubliken» durch Präsident Wladimir Putin am 21. Februar 2022 hat Russland die nicht-regierungskontrollierten Gebiete im Osten der Ukraine als unabhängige Staaten anerkannt. Haben haben die beiden Kammern des russischen Parlaments die Verträge ratifiziert.

Staatssekretärin Leu äussert sich sehr beunruhigt über die Entsendung russischer Truppen in diese Gebiete. Es bestehe eine akute Gefahr, dass das Gewaltverbot dadurch verletzt wird. Die Schweiz ruft deshalb alle Seiten auf, das Völkerrecht, namentlich das humanitäre Völkerrecht einzuhalten, und unterstützt nachdrücklich den Vorrang des Völkerrechts. Diese Haltung wurde auch dem russischen Botschafter in der Schweiz mitgeteilt, der heute Vormittag ins EDA zitiert wurde.

Im Hinblick auf den Konflikt in der Ostukraine, der seit acht Jahren andauert, hat sich die Schweiz seit Beginn für eine friedliche Lösung im Rahmen der von der OSZE geleiteten Friedensverhandlungen, der Trilateralen Kontaktgruppe, eingesetzt. Auch im Zusammenhang mit der jüngsten Eskalation steht die Schweiz im Kontakt mit ihren Partnern, um abzuklären, wie die OSZE im Hinblick auf die Deeskalation unterstützt werden kann. Staatssekretärin Leu unterstrich, dass die Schweiz einen Dialog mit allen Seiten unterhält und bereit ist, aktiv zur Entspannung der Lage beizutragen – auch im Rahmen ihrer Guten Dienste.

EDA steht im Kontakt mit Schweizer Staatsangehörigen in der Ukraine

Bei der Schweizer Botschaft in Kyiv sind derzeit 296 Schweizer Staatsangehörige registriert. Dabei handle es sich um Schweizer Bürgerinnen und Bürger, Doppelbürgerinnen und -bürger sowie Familienangehörige von Schweizer Staatsangehörigen, sagte Hans-Peter Lenz, Chef des Krisenmanagement-Zentrums (KMZ) im EDA. Zehn registrierte Personen leben laut Lenz in der Region Donetsk. «Das EDA kümmert sich um die Schweizer Staatsangehörigen und ist regelmässig per Telefon oder E-Mail mit ihnen in Kontakt», sagte der KMZ-Chef.

Die Schweizer Botschaft in Kyiv sei offen und operationell, sagte Lenz. Sie erbringe im normalen Rahmen konsularische Dienstleistungen und nehme ihre diplomatischen Aufgaben wahr. «Das Personal der Botschaft ist wohlauf», so Lenz weiter.

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