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21:55 16 Jun 2024

Swiss citizen, member of Ukraine's International Legion, surrenders to Bern police in unexpected move to raise awareness to war

A volunteer who fought for Ukraine was arrested in Switzerland

Police in Bern, Switzerland, arrested 36-year-old Jona Neidhart. He served as a machine gunner in Ukraine for two years as a member of the International Legion.

The Swiss newspaper Blick, whose reporters were on-site during the detention, has documented this.

Neidhart voluntarily surrendered to the police, which was unexpected.

As a neutral country, Switzerland imposes a penalty of up to three years in prison for its citizens who join a foreign army.

Neidhart informed journalists that he returned home specifically for the Global Peace Summit on Ukraine, which has been taking place at the Bürgenstock resort since June 15.

He aims to bring focus to Ukraine.

"I am looking forward to my arrest. I stand by my decision to fight for Ukraine and thus for democracy," he said when he arrived in Bern by bus.

He called the summit "a joke" and claimed that the only way to support Ukraine indeed was by giving them a chance to defeat Russia in battle before negotiating.

"If you really want to help Ukraine, you must enable it to defeat the Russians militarily. You must first break the Russians before negotiating with them, not the other way around," he said.

Neidhart sharply criticizes the government of his country for the minimal aid to Ukraine.

Photo: BBC

He said he was not afraid of prison and joked that after two years at the front, he could "sleep anywhere."

"I want to wake up Switzerland and make people understand how important Ukraine's struggle is," Neidhart emphasized.

For reference:

Jona Neidhart was born in Zurich and worked as a high school teacher. Since March 9, 2022, he has been fighting in Ukraine as a member of the International Legion.

Together with foreign fighters, he survived the shelling of the Yavoriv training ground, participated in the Kharkiv counteroffensive, and fought in the Luhansk region and near Bakhmut.

In April 2024, he gave a lengthy interview with Ukrainian Radio Svoboda.

Jona Neidhart is the only person who has publicly declared his service within Ukraine's armed forces. Approximately a dozen Swiss individuals are fighting alongside Ukraine, but they are specifically integrated within the army to avoid facing repercussions at home.

It should be noted that the first Peace Summit officially started on Saturday afternoon in the Swiss resort of Bürgenstock, with the participation of 100 delegations from 92 countries and eight international organizations.

The summit covered topics such as nuclear security, food security, and the humanitarian aspect, including the exchange of prisoners and the return of Ukrainian children who were abducted. The Russian representatives will be given the final documents of the summit.

During his speech, Zelensky noted that Ukraine managed to gather 101 countries and international organizations at the inaugural Peace Summit, which represented all parts of the world and continents.

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