As a result of Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Ukraine, the Swiss Federal Council has implemented a complete revision of the Ordinance on Measures connected with the Situation in Ukraine, thereby adopting further packages of European Union sanctions against Russia. These new measures entered into force at 6 pm on 4 March. In doing so, Switzerland’s measures will align with those imposed by the EU. Going forwards, the Federal Council will autonomously decide to adopt further EU sanctions measures against Russia depending on any new developments.
Dual use items and technology
The export of dual-use goods is now prohibited, regardless of the end-user and the intended end-use. The new sanctions measures remove the “military use or end-user” qualifier, and instead impose a blanket prohibition on the supply of dual-use items to any Russian person or for use in Russia. There is also a prohibition on providing technical assistance, brokering and other services related to dual-use items, and on providing related financing or financial assistance.
Furthermore, it is prohibited to export to Russia or Ukraine specific military goods listed in Annex 3 of the Swiss Goods Controls Ordinance that could contribute to the military and technological strengthening of Russia or to the development of the defense and security sector. The provision of services of any kind, including financial services, brokering, technical advice, and the granting of financial means the Russian Federation or Ukraine or intended for use in these countries is also prohibited.
Switzerland has introduced prohibitions on supplies of items “suited for use in oil refining“. There are also restrictions on associated services, financing and financial assistance. The list of restricted items is contained in a new Annex 4 which restricts the items based on their customs tariff code. All of the restricted items are contained within Chapters 84 and 85 of the Swiss customs tariff.
SECO may authorise certain derogations insofar as this is urgently necessary to prevent or mitigate an event that could have serious and significant effects on human health and safety or on the environment. In addition, in urgent and duly justified cases, the sale, delivery, export or transit of Annex 4 goods may take place without prior authorisation, provided SECO is informed within five working days of the sale, delivery, export, transit or transport and explains the reasons for these activities.
Switzerland has brought in prohibitions on the provision of drilling, well testing, logging and completion, supplying floating units in Russia, including in its exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf, in connection with oil exploration and extraction in waters deeper than 150 m, in the area north of the Arctic Circle, or in connection with projects related to the production of oil from resources located in shale formations by hydraulic fracturing.
Aviation and space sector
Switzerland has prohibited the export of all items listed in Chapter 88 of the customs tariff to Russian persons or for use in Russia (listed in a new Annex 3). This includes aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof. Consequently, it is now prohibited to export aircraft, spare parts and equipment to Russian airlines and to the Russian space sector. Standard prohibitions on associated services also apply. In addition, the following activities are also prohibited in relation to the items: overhaul, repair, inspection, replacement, modification or defect rectification of an aircraft or component.
Financial sector restrictions
Other EU financial sanctions have also been adopted, affecting in particular the SWIFT messaging system for financial transactions. It is now prohibited to provide specialized financial messaging services used to exchange financial data, to banks, enterprises or entities referred to in Annex 14 (i.e. Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank, VTB Bank, Vnesheconombank, Bank Otkritie, Bank Rossiya, Novikombank) or to any bank, enterprise or entity located in the Russian Federation and more than 50% controlled by banks, enterprises or entities referred to in Annex 14.
Under the new measures, there are restrictions on dealings involving “transferable securities and money-market instruments” (previously “financial instruments”), in particular assisting in the issuance, trading, or provision of investment services of securities and money market instruments issued after April 12, 2022 by entities including four Russian banks (Alfa Bank, Bank Otkritie, Bank Rossiya and Promsvyazbank – the latter two having been also fully designated earlier in the week), and eight Russian state-owned companies (Almaz-Antey, Kamaz, Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port, Rostec, Russian Railways, JSC PO Sevmash, Sovcomflot, and United Shipbuilding Corporation).
Moreover, it is prohibited to provide public financing or financial assistance for trade with or investment in the Russian Federation. The prohibition does not apply to funding or financial assistance commitments entered into before March 5, 2022, the provision of public financing or financial assistance up to a total amount of CHF 10,000,000 per project to small and medium-sized enterprises in Switzerland, the provision of public financing or financial assistance for the food trade and for agricultural, medical or humanitarian purposes.
Banks are prohibited from accepting deposits from Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia, or from banks, companies or entities established in Russia if the total value exceeds CHF 100,000. Banks must provide SECO by June 3, 2022, with a list of deposits exceeding CHF 100,000 held by Russian nationals or natural persons residing in the Russian Federation, or by banks, companies or entities established in the Russian Federation. Updates on deposit amounts must subsequently be provided every 12 months.
Additionally, transactions with the Russian Central Bank are no longer permitted and there is a prohibition on selling or exporting banknotes denominated in Swiss Francs or Euros to or within the Russian Federation or to any person or entity in Russia including the Government and the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, or for use in that country
Designated party listings
The Federal Council has decided to extend the designated party listings by adding the individuals on the list of persons adopted by the EU on 28 February to Annex 8 of the Ordinance and thereby freeze the assets of further persons with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Particularly noteworthy are the inclusions of Igor Sechin (CEO of Rosneft), Nikolay Tokarev (CEO of Transneft), Gennady Timchenko (founder of Volga Group), Alisher Usmanov (one of Russia’s businessmen officials with close ties to President Putin), Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven (all shareholders of Alfa Group), Vitaly Savelyev (Minister of Transport), and Olga Skabeyeva (the host of Russia’s most popular political talk-show).
In light of further EU sanctions already announced, we expect further alignment by Switzerland more timely after new EU sanctions have been formally adopted. The same holds true for any new EU sanctions against Belarus where Switzerland has already aligned itself before.