ZURICH, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Switzerland has cancelled Russian participation in an air show, its defence ministry said on Tuesday, apparently due to concerns about events in Ukraine.
Neutral Switzerland has not joined the European Union and the United States in imposing sanctions against Russia over its role in Ukraine, but says it is “exercising restraint in the area of military contacts with Russia”.
The West accuses Russia of arming pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, something Moscow denies.
“Even in times of crisis it is important to maintain contacts. Nevertheless, military contacts are of a special nature and in the present circumstances it would be preferable to show restraint,” the ministry said in a statement.
The “Russian Knights” aerobatic display team had been due to take part in the show in Payerne, near Lake Neuchatel, that starts this month, but the ministry said this “would not be appropriate at this time”.
Switzerland has taken measures against Russian and Ukrainian nationals and organisations to avoid being used as a conduit to circumvent Western sanctions, but decided against imposing its own sanctions. (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)