F-16s, Sanctions & Diplomacy: New Dutch policy for Russia

According to Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs, the relationship with Russia should be reconsidered. He said this in the Second Chamber yesterday.

Koenders has "serious concerns" about the latest developments, such as the destabilization in the Ukraine and the "rhetoric and intimidation" from Russia. The fact that Moscow is not looking for "political solutions" with the West, worries him even more. He things the greatest risk is that "new dividing lines" will be created in Europe.

He suggests three points ahead in the policy for Russia. Firstly, NATO should be strengthened in order to defend their own safety. For this Dutch F-16's is patrolling in the Baltic airspace, to reassure Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Secondly, the economic sanctions against Russia should be continued. "The sanctions do indeed hurt Russia and they work."

The third element of the policy is to continue seeking a political solution and a "new balance in our relationship with Russia".

Koenders does not agree with isolating Russia, because, according to him, that is not in the best interest of Europe's safety. Recalling the Dutch ambassador, as pleaded for by Member of Parliament Louis Bontes, is not on the agenda. Koenders believes in diplomacy - an ambassador is especially necessary when things are difficult.