Austria’s foreign minister says his country will maintain its neutral status, even as EU allies Sweden and Finland have revised their foreign policy position for decades in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
“The situation looks a little different for us,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schlenberg told German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday, pointing to “irresistible” public support for neutrality in Austria.
Schellenberg said the country, which receives 80% of its natural gas from Russia, would continue to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine instead of lethal weapons.
“We are helping on a large scale but not with weapons of war and I think aid to Ukraine cannot be reduced to weapons of war alone,” he told the broadcaster.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, which began on February 24, has prompted the rebuilding of national security policies in many European countries.
On Wednesday, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO, one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security architecture in decades, not least because Finland shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border with Russia.
Switzerland, a non-EU member state and has long been known for its neutral position that keeps it out of the two world wars, is also more inclined to join the defense alliance, the head of the Swiss Defense Ministry’s security policy told Reuters earlier this month.