The project to return decommissioned Leopard 2 tanks to Germany obtains the support of the Swiss executive


The Swiss executive on Wednesday backed a proposal to decommission 25 decommissioned Leopard 2 battle tanks that the German government wants to return to the German manufacturer to help fill gaps in the Berlin arsenal after shipping its own tanks to Ukraine.

The Federal Council, Switzerland’s seven-member executive body, said it supported a proposal by a key parliamentary committee on security policy to decommission the tanks and re-export them to Germany. Defense Minister Viola Amherd is expected to endorse the plan during a speech to the lower house of the legislature next month.

Such a re-export would also require the support of the upper house during its September session, and a subsequent green light from the Swiss economy minister. The tanks would be sent only on the condition that they were returned to the manufacturer Rheinmetall – and that they did not go to Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led Switzerland to struggle with its long-standing adherence to neutrality, mandated by the Constitution, which notably prohibits the export of arms or war material manufactured or owned by to Switzerland to combatants in active conflicts.

Switzerland, however, has aligned itself with European Union sanctions targeting Russian individuals and companies following the invasion.

The Swiss army currently uses 134 refurbished Leopard-2 A4 WE tanks and holds another 96 that have not been refurbished and have been mothballed.

German economy and defense ministers contacted Swiss authorities in February to request the resale of the tanks to Rheinmetall, Swiss officials said. The ministers pledged to keep the tanks in Germany or with NATO or EU partners to supplement their arsenals.

Germany has delivered 18 of its Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine.


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