Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the ‘strongest possible terms’, saying that ‘one country and one man are responsible.’
‘That country,’ he said, ‘is Russia and the man is Vladimir Putin.’
‘This is a dark day for Ukraine, for Europe and the world,’ he said. ‘This is something everyone feared could happen and that all the diplomatic efforts were aimed at averting.’
Speaking later, after a cabinet crisis meeting to discuss the response, Rutte said the Netherlands would call for ‘maximum sanctions’ against Russia, saying Moscow’s actions threaten the security and stability of Europe.
Those sanctions, he said, should target Putin and his government because ‘we are not in conflict with the Russian people’.
European leaders will meet later on Thursday to finalise their response.
Follow developments via the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, Der Spiegel and Al Jazeera on our international news feed page.
One option on the cards is excluding Russia from the international payments system Swift, which will have an impact on EU countries, broadcaster NOS said.
The Amsterdam stock exchange fell 3.6% in early trading in response to the news of the invasion. Oil and gas prices, however, rose.
Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said Russia’s action is ‘an act of war, for which Russia will pay a heavy price.’ And European council president Charles Michel and EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen have issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s ‘unprecedented and unprovoked military aggression’
‘By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability. We deplore the loss of life and the human suffering,’ the statement said.
Last week, the Dutch cabinet agreed to supply 100 sniper rifles, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, 3,000 helmets, 2,000 bullet proof vests, and several weapon and mine detection systems to Ukraine.
The decision was taken following a request from Ukraine for military support and the items on the list are in line with EU rules for arms exports, Hoekstra said on Friday.
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