Dutch PM says he won't take part in an EU summit with Putin
The Netherlands will not participate in any summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, despite France and Germany wanting to hold talks with the Russian president. At his arrival at the European Council meeting in Brussels, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he does not mind if the leaders of France and Germany meet with the Russian leader.
“I will not participate in a meeting with Vladimir Putin myself,” he said. Rutte then began to walk away when a reporter asked his reason. “MH17,” he replied.
The Netherlands-Russia relationship has been tenuous for years with several incidents damaging bilateral relations. Most notably was the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was targeted as it flew over Eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and the 15 crew members died in the plane crash, including 193 Dutch nationals.
The aircraft was believed to have been shot down by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine or by the Russian military. Multiple investigations showed that MH17 was brought down with a BUK missile system from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces.
The idea for the EU leaders to meet Putin was initiated by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The proposal was quickly backed by French President Emmanuel Macron. The topic is expected to be one of the main conversation points at the EU leader's summit.
Such a meeting could be viewed as a victory for Putin, where there is growIng concern about cyberattacks originating in Russia, and an increased military presence in the Black Sea. Others also believe such a meeting will give European leaders to address concerns about Russia directly to Putin, as U.S. President Joe Biden did earlier this month. It can also lay the foundation for improved relations later.