Swiss president pledges more support for Ukraine in Kyiv visit

KYIV/GENEVA (Reuters) – Swiss President Alain Berset pledged his long-term support for Ukraine on Saturday in a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv, where he also attended an international summit on food security, the Swiss government said.

Ukraine is hosting an international summit to promote its efforts to export grain despite an ongoing Russian blockade of the Black Sea, its main export route.

“In talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President Berset stressed that Switzerland stands in solidarity with Ukraine for the long haul, even in times of multiple concurrent crises,” the Swiss government said. Zelenskiy said on X that mine clearing, peace proposals and the use of profits from frozen Russian assets were also discussed.

Switzerland has previously said it has frozen some 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.5 billion) in Russian assets.

During the trip Berset also visited Bucha where many civilians were killed in the early stages of the war and laid flowers at a memorial in Kyiv for the Soviet-era Holodomor, when millions of Ukrainian peasants starved to death.

Berset also said Switzerland would provide additional aid to the country, supplying 10 more ambulances and six fire engines to replace damaged ones.

Switzerland, which has the principle of neutrality embedded in its constitution, has nevertheless imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and joined an international call for a special tribunal to address Russia’s crime of “aggression” against Ukraine. It says there is no contradiction as the legal definition of neutrality means not favouring any warring party militarily.

($1 = 0.8855 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Max Hunder in Kyiv and Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Mark Potter and Hugh Lawson)