Putin's nuclear threats "completely inappropriate", "dangerous game", Dutch Ministers say
Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra called it "completely, but really completely inappropriate" that Russian President Vladamir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons against the West. Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag said Putin is playing "ultimately a dangerous game" with his nuclear weapons threats.
"It is once again Russia that chooses the path of escalation," Hoekstra said after a meeting in Brussels. "I would really urge them to stop doing that."
There is a risk "that we drift further due to an error of escalation," Kaag said on Op1 about Putin's threats. She believes that Western countries should use "all the means" at their disposal to make Putin stop his attack on Ukraine. Kaag called it "unprecedented" that the European Union pledged to deliver weapons and money to Ukraine.
Since the war broke out, the EU's response has been "strong," the Finance Minister said. "But we don't know yet whether it's enough." Poland, and others, criticized the EU's sanction packages. They believe the sanction packages aren't far-reaching enough because Russian banks still have access to the international payment system SWIFT, for example. Several banks have now been cut off from the system.
Kaag did not want to say what the Netherlands would do if Russia actually launched a nuclear attack and NATO wanted to strike back. She emphasized that there is no nuclear war now, "but threatening at all is the first step."
The Netherlands has a core task within NATO: if NATO decides to deploy a nuclear weapon, the Netherlands will help. NATO repeatedly emphasized that it will not fight against Russia as long as no NATO member states are attacked. Kaag also said that she does not want to speculate about this scenario.
The Finance Minister will see "in the short term" whether the Netherlands should spend more money on Defense now that "the situation has changed so drastically," she said on the television program. "It is important that we do more. You don't get peace and security for free."
How the Netherlands will finance additional expenditure on Defense remains to be seen, Kaag said. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that he would invest an extra 100 billion euros in the German armed forces through a fund. Kaag would be optimistic about such a fund, for example, in a European context. "We need to look together at the EU level to see how we can do that so we can give NATO wings."
The Minister said that the Netherlands has already "stepped up" concerning the Defense budget, but not yet far enough. According to the Rutte IV coalition agreement, the Netherlands will spend approximately 1.8 percent of its gross domestic budget on Defense. NATO requires 2 percent from all member states.
Reporting by ANP