On March 25, 2022, Switzerland adopted new measures against Russia, further reinforcing its sanctions set. These measures are in line with those adopted by the EU on March 9 and 15, 2022. The new sanctions entered into force at 11:00 p.m. CET on the same day.

New Sanctions

Enhanced energy-sector sanctions

Ban on the sale, supply, delivery, export, transit and transport of certain oil industry goods

Since 2014, there has been an authorization regime in place in Switzerland targeting the sale, supply, delivery, export, transit and transport of certain oil industry goods. With the new Ordinance of March 4, 2022, Switzerland imposed a ban on certain transactions related to oil industry goods for petroleum refining, for example.

Trade restrictions are now extended to the wider Russian energy sector, which includes companies involved in:

  • Prospecting, production, distribution in the Russian Federation or extraction of crude oil, natural gas or solid fossil fuels, refining fuels, liquefaction of natural gas or regasification;
  • The manufacture or distribution in the Russian Federation of products based on solid fossil fuels, refined petroleum products or gases; and
  • The construction of installations or installation of equipment or the provision of services, equipment or technology in connection with activities related to the generation of energy or electricity.

The new ban on the sale, supply, delivery, export, transit and transport targets certain energy-related goods such as oil and gas tubes and pipes (listed in Annex 5 of the Ordinance) as well as related technical assistance, brokering, financing and financial assistance. These prohibitions do not apply to transactions governed by a contract entered into before March 26, 2022 and executed until September 17, 2022.

Exceptions apply for:

  • The transport of fossil fuels, in particular coal, oil and natural gas, from or through the Russian Federation to Switzerland or the European Economic Area ("EEA") or the urgent prevention or mitigation of an event likely to have a serious and significant impact on human health and safety or the environment
  • Insurance and reinsurance products for the benefit of a Swiss or an EEA Member State entity in relation to its non-energy business in Russia

Furthermore, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs ("SECO") may, after having consulted the competent authorities, authorize the sale, supply, delivery, export, transit and transport of targeted energy goods and related technical or financial assistance if the activity:

  • Is necessary for ensuring critical energy supply within the Swiss Confederation or the EEA; or
  • Is intended for the exclusive use of entities owned, or solely or jointly controlled by Swiss or EEA Member State entities

Investment ban in the energy sector

In line with the EU sanctions, the Swiss sanctions have imposed a ban on investments in the Russian energy sector, which prohibits:

  • Acquiring or extending participation in entities not incorporated in Switzerland or in the EEA and operating in the energy sector in Russia;
  • Granting or being part of any arrangement to grant new loan or credit, or otherwise provide financing, including equity capital, to entities not incorporated in Switzerland or in the EEA and operating in the energy sector in Russia, or for the documented purpose of financing such entities;
  • Creating any new joint venture with an entity not incorporated in Switzerland or in the EEA and operating in the energy sector in Russia; or
  • Providing investment services directly related to the above activities.

The SECO may, after having consulted the competent authorities, authorize such activities where they:

  • Are necessary for ensuring the critical energy supply of the Swiss Confederation or the EEA, as well as the transport of fossil fuels, in particular coal, oil and natural gas, from or through Russia into the Swiss Confederation or the EEA; or
  • Are intended for the exclusive use of an entity operating in the energy sector in Russia and owned by a Swiss or an EEA Member State entity.

Maritime navigation goods and technologies export ban

It is now forbidden to sell, supply, deliver, export, transit or transport certain goods and technology for maritime navigation to or for use in Russia (listed in Annex 16 of the Ordinance). Restrictions also apply to related technical assistance, brokering, financing and financial assistance.

For all these activities, prior authorization is required when the goods and related assistance are destined for or for use in Ukraine. Such authorization will be denied if the goods and related assistance are for military use or military end-users.

Exceptions apply for the above-mentioned activities when they are intended for non-military purposes and for a non-military end-user, humanitarian purposes, health emergencies, the prevention or mitigation on an emergency basis of an event likely to have serious and significant effects on human health and safety or on the environment, or in response to natural disasters.

Furthermore, the SECO may authorize the above-mentioned activities and related assistance to or for use in Russia for non-military purposes and for a non-military end-user, if the targeted goods or technology or the related assistance is intended for maritime safety.

Ban on iron and steel products

Switzerland has imposed a ban on the import, transport and purchase of iron and steel products originating in Russia or exported from Russia. These iron and steel products are listed in Annex 17 of the Ordinance. The prohibition does not apply to transactions governed by a contract entered into before March 26, 2022 and executed until June 17, 2022.

Restrictions also apply to related technical assistance, brokering, financing and financial assistance, insurance and reinsurance.

Luxury goods export ban

The sale, supply, export, transport and transit of luxury goods to any person, company or entity in Russia or for use in Russia is prohibited. These luxury goods are listed in Annex 18 of the Ordinance, and are subject to a threshold value of CHF 300 (unless otherwise indicated in the Annex for particular product categories).

An exception applies for goods that are necessary for the official purposes of diplomatic or consular missions of Switzerland or its partner countries in Russia or of international organizations enjoying immunities in accordance with international law, or to the personal effects of their staff.

Ban on direct and indirect dealings with certain Russia State Owned Entities ("SOEs")

In line with the EU sanctions, the Swiss sanctions have imposed a ban on direct and indirect transactions involving 12 SOEs listed in Annex 15 of the Ordinance as well as non-Swiss entities owned more than 50% by them or any other entity acting on their behalf or at their direction. The prohibition does not apply to transactions governed by a contract entered into before March 26, 2022 and executed until May 15, 2022.

The 12 listed SOEs are:

  • OPK OBORONPROM
  • UNITED AIRCRAFT CORPORATION
  • URALVAGONZAVOD
  • ROSNEFT
  • TRANSNEFT
  • GAZPROM NEFT
  • ALMAZ-ANTEY
  • KAMAZ
  • ROSTEC (RUSSIAN TECHNOLOGIES STATE CORPORATION)
  • JSC PO SEVMASH
  • SOVCOMFLOT
  • UNITED SHIPBUILDING CORPORATION

Exemptions apply for:

  • Transactions that are strictly necessary for the purchase, import or transport of fossil fuels, in particular coal, oil and natural gas, as well as titanium, aluminum, copper, nickel, palladium and iron from or through Russia into the Swiss Confederation or the EEA.
  • Transactions related to energy projects outside Russia in which an entity listed in Annex 15 of the Ordinance is a minority shareholder.
  • Transactions carried out for humanitarian activities or for the provision of assistance to the civilian population related to the situation in Ukraine by public organizations or by companies and entities that receive federal funding to carry out humanitarian activities or provide assistance to the civilian population.
  • Transactions carried out to enable official activities of Swiss diplomatic or consular representations and the performance of Swiss official missions.

Furthermore, the SECO may, after having consulted the competent authorities, exceptionally authorize transactions with targeted entities for humanitarian activities or the provision of assistance to the civilian population related to the situation in Ukraine.

Ban on credit rating

Similarly to the EU, it is prohibited to provide credit rating services, or subscription services in relation to credit rating activities, to any Russian national, natural person residing in Russia, or entity established in Russia. An exception applies for Swiss nationals, nationals of an EEA Member State or natural persons having a temporary or permanent residence permit in Switzerland or in an EEA Member State.

Asset freeze exception

As a result of the asset freezes in place under the Russia sanctions regime since February 28, 2022, dealing with any assets and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled by listed persons, or making available any funds or economic resources, directly or indirectly, to them is prohibited.

The recent revision of the Ordinance has implemented certain exceptions:

  • For humanitarian activities or the provision of assistance to the civilian population by public organizations or by companies and entities that receive federal funding to carry out humanitarian activities or provide assistance to the civilian population related to the situation in Ukraine; or
  • To enable official activities of Swiss diplomatic or consular representations and the performance of official Swiss missions.

Furthermore, the SECO may exceptionally authorize dealing with frozen assets and economic resources or the provision of such assets and resources to targeted persons for humanitarian activities or the provision of assistance to the civilian population related to the situation in Ukraine. In connection with these, the SECO may also authorize payments from a frozen bank account.