Dutch PM to visit Ukraine "soon" as tensions with Russia rise
Prime Minister Mark Rutte plans to travel to Ukraine "soon" with Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra. He said this during the parliamentary debate on the government statement. Rutte called the situation at the border between Russia and Ukraine "very worrying."
Russia sent tens of thousands of soldiers to the border with Ukraine, pushing the tension in the region to a very high level. According to Rutte, the European Union is seeking dialogue with Moscow and putting pressure on Russia to prevent military action.
Even a limited military operation on the Russian side will involve high costs, Rutte warned. "It is important that we realize that." The European Union is preparing sanctions. The Netherlands is closely involved in this as the fifth largest EU economy, according to the Prime Minister.
Whether Rutte will attempt to contact Moscow himself is unclear. Last year he refrained from attending any meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at an EU summit. "I will not participate in a meeting with Vladimir Putin myself," he said at a European Council meeting in Brussels in June. When a reporter asked why he replied, "MH17."
The Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 people on board, many of whom were Dutch. Investigation showed that the plane was shot down by a BUK missile system from a field in Ukraine that was under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The investigation team tracked the missile system's transport from Russia to the field and back.
The trial against the first four men suspected of involvement in the downing of the plane is currently ongoing. In December, the Public Prosecution Service demanded life in prison against all four.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times