Switzerland expands Russia sanctions list, adding Wagner group and Russian news agency RIA

Jessie Gretener

Switzerland is extending its list of sanctions relating to Russia to include the Wagner private military group and state news agency, RIA, as Western allies hit the country with bans designed to isolate it from the global economy.

In a statement on Thursday, the Swiss Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) justified that it is sanctioning the Wagner group for “their active involvement in Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine” and RIA for its “dissemination of pro-government propaganda and disinformation.”

“Switzerland is adopting the sanctioning of these two organizations and thus strengthens the effect of the EU (European Union) measures,” the EAER statement outlined.

Switzerland broke its neutrality status quo shortly after Russia’s war on Ukraine began by adopting the EU’s sanction package against Russia. On Wednesday, Swiss President Alain Berset said the country is taking the implementation of sanctions “seriously” and is “doing everything that can be done in order to enforce them.”

Switzerland also updated its stance on broadcasters RT Arabic and Sputnik Arabic, which the EU placed under a broadcasting and advertising ban on April 10. The EAER said the broadcasting of the two channels would not be banned in Switzerland; however, advertising on the two channels is now forbidden.

Some context: Russia showed surprising resilience to unprecedented Western sanctions in the first year of the war. However, cracks started to appear after President Vladimir Putin last month conceded that the restrictions could deal a blow to the country’s economy.

The sanctions have also contributed to Russia’s military decline, cutting off access to certain military systems needed to operate weapons.

CNN’s Hanna Ziady contributed reporting.

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