Swiss refrain from immediate sanctions against Russia

ZURICH, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Switzerland has refrained from immediate sanctions on Russia following its breach of Ukraine's sovereignty, the government said on Wednesday.

However, it wanted to make sure Switzerland is not used to get around punitive measures imposed by the European Union.

"The Federal Council (cabinet) wishes to ensure that Switzerland will not be used as a platform to circumnavigate sanctions imposed by the EU," it said in a statement.

"It will therefore examine the sanctions and then come to a decision," it said, adding it was in constant contact with several countries to exchange intelligence on the situation.

Switzerland may adopt compulsory measures to enforce sanctions adopted by the United Nations, the OSCE or Switzerland's main trading partners in order to ensure compliance with international law, in particular respect for human rights, it added. read more

The government condemned Russia's recognition of two regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states, saying it violated international law and breached Ukrainian sovereignty.

"Switzerland does not recognise the independence of these territories, which remain part of Ukrainian territory," the government said, referring to Donetsk and Luhansk.

Neutral Switzerland in 2014 did not adopt European Union sanctions imposed on Russia for annexing Crimea, instead implementing its own measures designed to keep the country and its financial centre from being used to circumvent EU measures.

Switzerland is obliged under international law to implement only sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

Compulsory measures available to the government include embargoes on goods, embargoes on services, financial sanctions, bans on entry and transit, or a combination of these measures, it said.

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields

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