Saturday 18 September 2021

Dutch to decide this weekend on sending armed mission to Ukraine

A decision will be taken this weekend on whether or not to send armed police or soldiers to the area where Malaysia Airways MH17 was brought down a week ago, prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs on Friday.

There is mounting speculation that the Netherlands and Australia are preparing to send troops to secure the crash site.

Rutte told MPs it is still ‘far from certain’ that armed officers will be sent but that this will be determined on Saturday or Sunday.

Commandos

The Telegraaf said earlier on Friday the Netherlands is poised to send its most elite soldiers to secure the crash site of Malaysian Airways MH17.

The paper says all leave for the commandos of the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade based in Schaarsbergen and Assen has been cancelled and that soldiers will leave for eastern Ukraine this weekend.

In addition, Dutch special forces currently in Mali are being recalled and sent on to the area around Donetsk, the paper says, without quoting sources. 

The aim of sending troops is to ensure the 23 Dutch crash investigators and 40 unarmed military police officers can do their job, the paper says.

Unarmed

On Thursday, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte confirmed the Netherlands is to send 40 unarmed military police officers to the MH17 crash site in Ukraine to help forensic experts look for the remaining bodies of the victims.

The military officers (marechaussee) will not be used to secure the area, Rutte told a news conference.

Earlier this week it was reported the Netherlands and Australia were working on sending an international army and police mission to secure the crash site in rebel-held eastern Ukraine but Rutte refused to go into details.

According to Australian media reports, Australia is sending up to 100 police officers to Ukraine, some of whom will be armed.

The Australian newspaper says Australia is close to securing a deal with Ukraine for federal police officers to secure the wreckage site of flight MH17.

Prime minister Tony Abbott said 90 federal police officers were in Europe now and another 100 would be sent from Australia today.

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