World, Russia-Ukraine War

Swiss army suspends sale of old bunkers due to Russia-Ukraine war

'We have to take what we have,' says top Swiss military official Thomas Sussli as army takes measures to enhance self-protection capabilities

Timo Kirez  | 18.09.2023 - Update : 19.09.2023
Swiss army suspends sale of old bunkers due to Russia-Ukraine war


The Swiss military has halted the sale of its aging bunkers that dot the country as the war in Ukraine continues, the country's army chief told local media on Monday. 

"We have to take what we have," the Thomas Sussli told newspapers owned by the Tamedia Group media company, adding that the military is the process of assessing the country's bunker stock.

Among these facilities, Sussli said, are bunkers whose locations are known and are currently in use by the army, which aims to ensure that the country's military cannot be knocked out of action with just a few bombing raids.

The Russia-Ukraine war has also prompted the Swiss army to seek to decentralize its structure, with the air force, for example, to train to operate improvised sites.

Switzerland's military had already announced in August that it would focus more on defending itself and its assets in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

"We always have to protect our shelters and camps first before we can protect others," Sussli had told public broadcaster SRF in August.

He also announced plans to enhance its counterintelligence capabilities, along with further measures on supplies and infrastructure.

Switzerland has for decades been home to hundreds of thousands of shelters and bunkers for its civilians to take refuge in the event of military conflict, having adopted a policy of "one shelter for every inhabitant."

According to the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), there are about 370,000 private and public shelters capable of housing around 9 million people for a unique coverage rate of over 100%. This system of shelters was created during the Cold War.

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