Ukraine crash: Dutch editorials divided on prime minister’s approach

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has refused to point the finger of blame at anyone in the wake of Thursday’s Ukraine plane crash. Newspaper leader writers have different ideas.

The Telegraaf makes no bones about where it thinks the blame lies. ‘Murderers’ screams the front page headline, above a photograph of Alexander Borodai, the ‘self-proclaimed premier of the people’s repubic of Donetsk’ surrounded by armed men.

In its editorial, the paper criticises the reluctance of prime minister Mark Rutte to point fingers because he believes that will make it less likely to find out the truth.


The same approach was taken during the Greenpeace crisis with Moscow, the paper points out.

‘But there is much less reason for this now,’ the Telegraaf says. ‘What has to happen before our government says ‘we won’t take this’. The Netherlands should be banging its fists on the table… the cabinet needs to make it clear to the world that we are seething with anger. This is terror, a war crime, mass murder!’

‘The Netherlands is acting in this crisis as if it is a little country and that lessens the impact of the prime minister’s words that he will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice.’

The truth?

The Volkskrant front page asks ‘are we going to find out the truth?’ Inside, the paper’s correspondent says that pro-Russian rebels are ‘in charge’ in the area where the plane crashed.

‘It is war, and who in a war zone does not follow orders, gets shot,’ one guard told Olaf Koens.

On its inside pages, the paper lists nine points and pieces of evidence about the crash. There is video evidence that the rebels have rockets, the rebels wrote about bringing down a plane on Twitter and the US security services picked up a electronic signal which ‘clearly’ came from a rocket launcher shortly before the plane was shot down, the paper says.

Ghosts of the past

In its editorial, the Volkskrant says Europe can no longer look away from the Ukrainian war unleashed by the Russians.

Peace in Europe has been built on the bones of millions of victims of nationalism, war and racism. Vladimir Putin, the paper says, is responsible for the return of echoes from the darkest period in European history.

On Thursday, the Netherlands was gruesomely confronted with an old truth: the peace on this continent cannot be divided and ‘far away conflicts’ no longer exist.

Velvet gloves

However, the paper continues in a second editorial, prime minister Mark Rutte must now remove his velvet gloves.

This cabinet’s motto is ‘uncovering the facts’. But while that might be sensible in diplomatic circles, the Netherlands should now show its fists.

President Putin carries great responsibility for the war in his back garden. The velvet gloves which were worn during the incident-packed year for friendship between the Netherlands and Russia should be removed.

The photographs of the king drinking beer with the Russian leader in Sochi was not a pretty picture and now the time is right to tell Putin the truth, in no uncertain terms.

International rules tate the country where a plane crashes take the leading role in the investigation. That is Ukraine. The black boxes should not be taken by separatists to Moscow but to Kiev. The Netherlands must join the investigation and ensure it is international and independent.

Shock and mourning

Trouw points out that nearly everyone will know one of the 192 dead. What connects the Spar supermarket in Amstelveen with the senate, a primary school in the village of Neerkant and Zuidas law firm Nauta? the paper asks.

It quotes the Hilversum football club Olympia 25 which lost six members: ‘We cannot yet fully comprehend it but the air disaster as left an enormous crater in our community’.

The front page photograph is that of king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima signing the register of condolences. ‘We are with them in our thoughts,’ the king wrote.


The AD’s front page shows a girl in pink shorts looking at the flowers left outside a Dutch home. ‘The pain is tangible everywhere,’ the paper says. ‘In many towns and villages, friends and family are mourning the 192 Dutch victims.’

The paper’s pages are full of personal stories of those who died: Willem who was going to live with his girlfriend who runs a B&B in Bali; the four children and their parents from one tiny village.

In its editorial, the paper says Rutte’s calm, detached approach is the only way. ‘Despite all the emotions, he is not being led by them,’ the paper states. ‘Emotions solve nothing. Whether it is territorial urges, hatred or old wounds, [emotions] get in the way of every solution.

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