Dutch Minister admits lying about meeting Russian president Putin

Minister Halbe Zijlstra of Foreign Affairs admitted that he lied about meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2006. While speaking at a VVD conference in 2016, Zijlstra said that he heard Putin speaking about 'Great Russia' in 2006. Now he says that he wasn't there himself, but an anonymous source. He wanted to protect the identity of his source by saying he was there himself, he told the Volkskrant.

At the VVD conference in 2016, Zijlstra said that he was in Putin's home in 2006. Putin spoke about 'Great Russia', and when asked what he meant with that term, he responded: "Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States. And oh yes, Kazakhstan was 'nice to have'," Zijlstra said. "And he did not leave it at words."

Now Zijlstra says that a source told him about these statements. "The geopolitical meaning of those words was and is great. I therefore thought it was politically important to make these statements public. The source that told me about Putin's quotation confirmed the events to the Volkskrant, and appreciates the fact that I guarantee anonymity."

Opposition party PVV wants to debate this lie with the Minister as soon as possible. "Debate necessary with Minister of Foreign Affairs about his lie. Debate has to take place before his meeting with the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs", PVV parliamentarian Raymond de Roon said on Twitter.

Zijlstra is meeting with is Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, according to newspaper AD.