Dutch FM: Harsh words for Russia "breach of trust," no talk of MH17

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According to Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs, the "breach of trust" caused by Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimea and the country's interference in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine will first have to be repaired before the international approach to Russia can get back to normal.

In a letter to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, Koenders wrote that a new international balance must be achieved with Russia through muscle (defensive measures), fist (sanctions) and open hand (dialogue). He made no mention of Russia's possible involvement in the downing of flight MH17.

"In a short time Russia has changed into a country with which relations almost across the board have become more complicated and that openly seems to reject the international legal order, the existing security arrangement in Europe and the universality of human rights, which the Netherlands is particularly close to." Koenders said. According to the minister, Russia's recently adopted restrictive legislation emphasizing on national pride and Russian values, coupled with a more assertive and aggressive foreign policy and willingness to use military-political means, have resulted in an alarming situation.

Koenders believes that an united international approach to Russia is therefore of the utmost importance. He thinks that the international community must continue to show strength to Russia, until the country changes course. The Netherlands will continue press for the promotion of human rights in Russia, people-to-people contacts and exchanges with independent institution in the fields of culture and science.

The Minister concluded that the Netherlands has chosen a realistic commitment, aimed at the de-escalation of the Russian policy towards Ukraine, and dialogue and functional cooperation where possible. "A new balance in the relationship with Russia can not be found with sanctions pressure and collective defense alone. It is also crucial to maintain open communication with Russia." Koenders said.

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