Russia says Swiss 'no longer neutral', can't act as go-between with Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: A Swiss national flag flies behind a sign marking the Bundesplatz square in Bern
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MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia said on Thursday it had turned down a Swiss offer to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia and Moscow's interests in Ukraine because it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country.

Switzerland has a long diplomatic tradition of acting as an intermediary between countries whose relations have broken down, but Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ivan Nechayev said this was not possible in the current situation.

"The Swiss were indeed interested in our opinion on the possible representation of Ukraine's interests in Russia and Russia's in Ukraine," Nechayev told reporters.

"We very clearly answered that Switzerland had unfortunately lost its status of a neutral state and could not act either as an intermediary or a representative. Bern has joined illegal Western sanctions against Russia."

Neutral Switzerland has mirrored nearly all the sanctions that the European Union imposed on Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine.

Swiss media previously reported that the main objective of the Swiss proposal would be to allow Ukrainians living in Russia to receive consular services from the Swiss embassy in Moscow.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)