Russian Swiss Relations: A Sanction Trap

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-12-80-88
Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 12.09.2022. Revised 21.09.2022. Accepted 01.10.2022.

Abstract. The article analyzes the state of Russian-Swiss business cooperation in the new world realities that have developed since February 2022. The author notes that a feature of Russian business in Switzerland is the trade in commodities (petroleum products, gold and platinum, rare earth metals and fertilizers). An important role is played by the placement of personal capital of super-rich Russian businessmen who use Switzerland for their safe storage. The Russian special military operation in Ukraine provoked a harsh reaction from the Swiss authorities. On February 28, 2022, the Federal Council joined the EU sanctions. The assets of persons included in the sanction’s lists are blocked, establishing new business relations with them is prohibited. Swiss airspace is closed to all flights from Russia. Thus, the Swiss authorities have sacrificed the reputation of a “safe harbor”, which they have created for themselves over the past 200 years. Businessmen working with Russia were very cautious about the outbreak of the sanctions war. Swiss business in Russia is represented by portfolio investments in the food, pharmaceutical, logistics, construction and raw materials industries. About 200 companies are associated with the Russian market, employing almost 40.000 people. Several companies, primarily construction, pharmaceutical and food companies, are still delaying their exit from the Russian market. They believe that the import substitution policy pursued by Russia may call into question the indispensability of their commercial products and a return to the Russian market will be impossible. However, violation of the sanctions leads to imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to CHF 1 million. According to the author, given the accession of Switzerland to the policy of sanctions in the financial sector, it will lose its credibility as a safe haven for storing Russian capital, giving way to the Arab Emirates, and as for the supply of traditional export goods to Russia – industrial and electrical equipment, pharmaceutical products, then by the time the sanctions are eased, the market will have already been redistributed, and it will be very problematic to return to it.

Keywords: Russia, Switzerland, business, trading companies, oligarchs, anti-Russian sanctions


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For citation:
Chernyavskii S. Russian Swiss Relations: A Sanction Trap. World Eсonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 12, pp. 80-88.

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