Switzerland will not accept patients from Russia's war in Ukraine for treatment in Swiss hospitals, the government said Monday, citing its military neutrality and the difficulty in distinguishing civilians among the wounded.
The Tages Anzeiger newspaper said some Swiss cantons were willing to respond positively to a request by NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, which is organising medical evacuations from Ukraine internationally.
Neutral Switzerland is not a member of NATO.
The federal government looked into the international request but nonetheless ultimately decided against admitting war wounded.
"After the call became known, it was clarified with the departments and federal offices concerned whether Switzerland could also accept patients in this case," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Switzerland generally provides better and more efficient support with its aid and humanitarian commitment on site than if patients are admitted in Switzerland.
"In addition, there were obstacles under the law of neutrality, when military patients were admitted and it was hardly possible to distinguish between civilian and military patients."
The ministry stressed that as part of its humanitarian aid, Switzerland was supporting rehabilitation measures for people injured in the conflict.
It said the main hospitals in Lviv, Sumy and Chernihiv had been provided with treatment equipment and training for physiotherapists.
Within days of Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland decided to match the neighbouring European Union's sanctions on Moscow, breaking with the neutral Alpine country's traditional reserve.
Switzerland's long-standing position is one of armed neutrality and the landlocked European country has mandatory conscription for men.
Switzerland insisted last month that it would not allow Swiss war material to be transferred via third countries to Ukraine, in line with its strict military neutrality.