Dutch PM headed to London to discuss war in Ukraine; FM traveling to Helsinki, Baltics
On Monday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte will meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in London. Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs will visit Finland, Estonia, and Latvia on Monday. On Tuesday, he will visit Lithuania, where Dutch soldiers are stationed. They'll discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Rutte will speak to Johnson and Trudeau separately and jointly. On Thursday, the Dutch Prime Minister will go to Paris to discuss the situation in Ukraine informally with all European heads of government.
Hoekstra is visiting four countries that border Russia and fear for their safety following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. NATO has since strengthened its presence in the Baltic states. Finland is not a NATO member but is strengthening ties with the United States of America.
Hoekstra will speak to his colleague Pekka Haavisto in Helsinki. He'll then travel to Estonia to meet with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. She previously called on NATO to permanently deploy troops in the Baltic states. In Latvia, Hoekstra will meet with Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics. Rinkevics and Hoekstra will also visit the Ukrainian embassy to show their support.
On Tuesday, Hoekstra has meetings with the Belarusian opposition leader in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, among others. Russian troops entered Ukraine from Belarus, which is why the government in Minsk is facing sanctions. The Dutch Foreign Minister's trip will end with a visit to the approximately 270 Dutch soldiers in Rukla. They have been stationed there for over five years to deter the Russians and reassure the Lithuanians.
The Prime Minister is "constantly in contact" with his European colleagues, he said on Twitter on Friday. Ukrainians also have Rutte's attention; both Ukrainians living in the Netherlands and the people in Ukraine who suffer daily from the war started by Russia. Rutte previously recorded a video message for them in which he promised continued support in fighting Russia in the form of weapons, medicines, and food.
The Cabinet and Rutte have spoken out strongly against Russian aggression in the past days, just like government leaders of other countries in the European Union. One of the low points of recent days was a Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. Rutte condemned this attack as "life-threatening" and "reckless."
Reporting by ANP.