Dutch gov’t tells citizens to leave Ukraine “as soon as possible”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra has told Dutch citizens to leave Ukraine as soon as possible. Most embassy personnel will also leave Ukraine.
"The security situation was already worrying, and has deteriorated further and further in recent days," Hoekstra said. "In consultation with the various allies, I am now taking this step and calling on all Dutch people to leave Ukraine."
The Foreign Affairs Ministry also issued an urgent Code Red travel alert for all of the Ukraine. The alert is the strictest the ministry can issue, stating, "Do not travel to Ukraine. If you are in Ukraine, leave the country as soon as possible." The ministry said people should leave while commercial flights are available, and they should not return until the situation improves.
The Netherlands will not evacuate people from Ukraine if the conflict with Russia escalates there, said Ambassador Jennes de Mol during an online meeting with Dutch people present in the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the report.
“You will have to get across the border yourself,” De Mol said. “Make sure your car is ready and filled with fuel. Arrange for extra fuel, blankets, food and drinks for the road.” A support center is being set up in the western city of Lviv, where people can go to get emergency passports, for example. The government officials also said that any Dutch citizen present in Ukraine should register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
De Mol urged the meeting’s participants not to postpone their departure until the last minute. "The situation is very uncertain and can suddenly get out of hand,” he said. “That's why we ask you now: is your stay here really necessary? If not, consider leaving now."
Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an initial warning to Dutch nationals in Ukraine, asking them to reconsider whether their continued presence was necessary in light of the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. In January, Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra announced that staff at the Dutch embassy in Ukraine were allowed to return to the Netherlands.
Other countries, including Belgium, have also advised their citizens to leave Ukraine.
Reporting by ANP.