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Europe’s Leading Bullet Maker Quits Market — RUAG Drops Weapons to Make Windmills

The entrance to the Eichwald camping site in Luegde, northwestern Germany.

Zurich, Switzerland (CNN)In a shocking about-face, leading Swiss arms manufacturer RUAG announced this morning a bold new plan to discontinue its armament division, RUAG Ammotec, and to cease the manufacture of ammunition worldwide. The company will instead focus entirely on ethically sound and environmentally sustainable renewable energy and fire-fighting technologies.

The decision, which goes into effect October 1, was driven by Monica Duca Widmer, the new chair of the RUAG International board, and is partially a result of the pressure RUAG faces as a Swiss state-owned company. According to corporate communications released this morning on the internet and at a press conference in Zurich, RUAG has now committed to retooling its factories to manufacture goods and services that fall into better alignment with strict ethical and environmental standards approved by the Swiss public, who are largely opposed to the country’s practice of selling arms abroad.
“In today’s unstable world, weapons and ammunition production has become too much of an existential risk for RUAG’s reputation,” said Urs Breitmeier, CEO of RUAG International, at the Zurich event. “We have the people and the technology to make a benign difference, so that’s what we’ll do.”
    The company’s aviation division, RUAG MRO, also announced plans to refit their fleet with firefighting technology to help alleviate the fires currently burning in the Amazon. The program to bring RUAG up to the stringent public standards of global conduct is being called RUAG GREEN, and will focus on redirecting the conglomerate’s technological innovation power towards greater global good.
    “After careful analysis, we’ve decided that the cost of manufacturing and exporting arms and ammunition to the world far outweigh the benefits,” said board Chair Widmer in a prepared statement. “There is no reason for RUAG to fuel global conflict while the world burns.”
    Until the announcement of RUAG GREEN, RUAG had had plans to privatize Ammotec, which would have allowed it to expand into previously restricted territories like Brazil, and into countries with civil unrest and a growing arms market. The company had denied that privatization was a workaround for avoiding Swiss regulations, and this past May even censured an AMMOTEC manager in Latin America who claimed the company was “very hopeful” that the new government of Brazil would accommodate expansion plans.
    Now, it appears that all the confusion can be laid to rest.
    At the Zurich press conference, Renata Sahar, Secretary to Widmer, summed up the sentiment that led to the change: “We looked at our size and influence, and realized we could either contribute to violence, or we could marshall our resources to help move the world towards a more sustainable and peaceful future. In the end, we all wanted to sleep better at night.”