Dutch FM pleased with sanctions against Russia; Dutch urged to leave the region
The countries of the European Union quickly agreed on a sanction package against Russia in Paris on Tuesday. Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs is happy with the "great degree of unity" between the member states. The travel advice color code for Ukraine and parts of Russia turned red on Tuesday, now that Russia escalated the situation between the two countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not on the list of Russians sanctioned by the EU. "Because that is what we could achieve with this speed and unity. As far as I am concerned, this is really the first step," Hoekstra said to the media in the French capital.
The EU Ministers drew up the package of sanctions in consultation with the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Russians who were closely involved in recognizing the renegade regions in Ukraine as independent states will be placed on a special sanctions list. The assets of several banks will be frozen, and trade will be banned with the renegade Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
According to Hoekstra, these sanctions do not affect the Netherlands. But according to the Telegraaf, the sanctions will affect about a thousand Dutch entrepreneurs who are regularly active in Russia. About 400 Dutch companies have a subsidiary or an office there. Russia will also likely retaliate with punitive measures that could hit the Dutch economy, the newspaper wrote, adding that the Russians are economically better prepared for sanctions than the EU.
The EU member states agreed to take further punitive measures if the Russian government takes additional steps against Ukraine. Should Moscow retaliate with their own measures, the member states agreed to limit the consequences for the affected countries.
With Putin, Europe must be prepared for the worst-case scenario and remain determined and united, Hoekstra said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also escalated the travel warning for Ukraine to code red now that Russia recognized the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states. The Ministry urged Netherlands residents not to travel to Ukraine and anyone already there to leave as soon as possible.
According to the Ministry, the security situation in Ukraine is uncertain and could "worsen very quickly." The Ministry also noted that the number of flights from the EU to Ukraine is rapidly decreasing. KLM stopped flying to the country on February 12. The Ministry advised people to consider leaving the country by train or road.
A code red travel warning was also issued for parts of Russia. These are areas within 20 kilometers of the border with Ukraine, because the situation there is "very tense." "There is a large Russian force at the border. The situation in this area is difficult to predict and not safe," the Ministry explained.
Code red also applies to Chechnya and other areas of the North Caucasus, such as Dagestan and Ingushetia. The Ministry also advised remaining vigilant outside these areas and the border zone.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.