Switzerland as a neutral country will not send arms to Ukraine, but its government said Friday that dozens of retired trams from Bern and Zurich would be sent to the war-torn country.
Eleven trams will be sent to the major western city of Lviv, which has seen its population swell with people fleeing the conflict zones in the south and east, the government said in a statement.
The central city of Vinnytsia will also receive trams, which are likewise in “perfect working order.”
“The vehicles are in good condition and will still be able to circulate for 10 to 12 years in Ukraine,” the statement said, adding that the first trams would be delivered in the third quarter of this year.
“Many people took refuge in Lviv following the Russian offensive, and many businesses were also relocated there, confronting the city with a significant population growth,” the statement said.
“Road traffic has increased accordingly, which is why the additional trams are very welcome.”
Switzerland is covering the cost of getting the trams to Lviv and training workers for maintaining them, plus the construction of a new tram line to a hospital.
Retired Zurich trams were first sent to Vinnytsia between 2007 and 2011, with more delivered under a 2021 deal. In a new agreement, 31 more trams are being sent from Switzerland's financial capital.
Besides the Zurich trams in Vinnytsia, old trams from Bern are still in operation in Romania and former Basel trams are in service in Belgrade.
Switzerland's long-standing position is one of well-armed military neutrality.
Though it has matched the European Union's economic sanctions on Russia following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, it has refused to send armaments or allow countries that hold Swiss-made weaponry to re-export it to Ukraine.
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