In a statement Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said, it was “very probable” that Switzerland would follow the European Union (EU) on Monday in sanctioning Russia and freezing Russian assets in the country.
In an interview to RTS, Cassis said the seven member Federal Council would meet on Monday and review recommendations by the departments of finance and economy.
When asked whether Switzerland, a major financial centre and commodities trading hub, would follow the EU in freezing Russian assets, he said: “It is very probable that the government will decide to do so tomorrow, but I cannot anticipate decisions not yet taken.”
He said, Switzerland’s neutrality must be preserved and it stood ready to offer its good offices for diplomacy if talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials on the Belarusian border do not succeed for reaching an armistice.
However, “That does not prevent us from calling a spade a spade,” he said.
Switzerland has walked a tortuous line between showing solidarity with the West and maintaining its traditional neutrality that the government says could make it a potential mediator.
The country is facing growing pressure to side clearly with the West against Moscow and adopt punitive stance. So far, the government has said, it will not let Switzerland be used as a platform to circumvent EU sanctions.
Cassis said on Sunday that Ukrainians fleeing the conflict would be welcome “for a transitional period, which we hope will be as short a possible”.
In a separate statement Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said, Switzerland was ready to take in those who need protection and support the neighbouring countries which are affected.
“We will not leave people in the lurch,” she said.
Last week, the Swiss government amended its watchlist to include 363 individuals and four companies that the EU had put on its sanctions list to punish Moscow.
As of 2020, Russians held nearly $11.24 billion (10.4 billion Swiss francs) in Switzerland, shows data from the Swiss National Bank.
($1 = 0.9252 Swiss francs)