Dutch back more spending on defence, return to military service

Some 42% of the Dutch are concerned that the war in Ukraine will have a physical impact on the Netherlands and almost 50% say the Dutch defence budget should be increased to boost Nato, according to research carried out on behalf of the AD

Almost half support the reintroduction of military service, with a clear generational divide. A a clear majority of the over-50s want to bring back a spell in the army for youngsters, but they themselves are against the idea. Active military service was abolished in 1997.

Nevertheless, defence minister Kajsa Ollongren has said military service “is not the most efficient way to fill the gaps we have”. 

“The current armed forces are very different to the army during the Cold War,” she said in an interview with the AD. “We use much more advanced equipment and need specialised people. But we do need people.”

The ministry has started a programme to allow youngsters to “join up” for a short period to see if army life is for them. Ollongren hopes the programme will lead to “thousands” of new recruits. 

A number of high profile military officials in Europe have been warning recently that preparations for war should be stepped up, and this is supported by two-thirds of those in the AD survey. 

“I am very pleased with the support,” Ollongren said. “I think it shows that the Dutch are aware of what is going on – our own security and the security of Europe. And that people consider Russia and Putin to be a security risk and a threat to our way of life.”

Ollongren also repeated the Netherlands’ intention to ensure defence spending is in line with the Nato 2% rule this year. 


The government’s international strategy advisory group Adviesraad Internationale Vraagstukken said on Thursday that Western consensus on Ukraine is becoming more fragile, and that a long-term stalemate is looming.

There is a need for undiminished Dutch and European support for Ukraine, the council said. At the same time, the Netherlands should prepare more proactively for different scenarios for the progression of war.

The three parties currently in talks on forming a new government in the Netherlands are divided on the issue, with the far right PVV calling for halt to military support for Ukraine. The pro-farmers BBB has also suggested Ukrainian refugees be sent back to “safe” parts of the country.

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