Swiss veto German request to re-export tank ammunition to Ukraine

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FILE PHOTO: Gepard antiaircraft tank of the German armed forces Bundeswehr fires during demonstration in Munster

ZURICH (Reuters) - Neutral Switzerland has vetoed the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used in Gepard anti-aircraft tanks that Germany is sending to Ukraine, the government said on Tuesday.

Germany earlier announced its first delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks following weeks of pressure at home and abroad to do so.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirmed a report by broadcaster SRF that it had blocked Germany from sending munitions for the Gepard tank to Ukraine.

SECO received two requests from Germany to transfer to Ukraine ammunition it had previously received from Switzerland. One concerned 35mm ammunition for the Gepard tank. The other concerned 12.7mm ammunition, the agency said in response to a query.

"Both inquiries by Germany as to whether the ammunition received from Switzerland may be transferred to Ukraine were answered in the negative with reference to Swiss neutrality and the mandatory rejection criteria of Swiss war material legislation," SECO said.

SRF said it was unclear which ammunition Germany was now sending to Ukraine along with the Gepards, following the Swiss veto.

Switzerland has parted with past practice and adopted European Union sanctions designed to punish Russia for invading Ukraine, but has said its neutrality does not permit providing arms for use in conflict zones.

Last month it rejected Poland's request for arms to help neighbouring Ukraine.

Switzerland generally requires recipient countries to declare they will not re-export war material without permission.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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