Monday 15 August 2022

Dutch embassy staff in Ukraine are cleared to return home: Hoekstra

Wopke Hoekstra and Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias at the meeting. Photo: EPA/Olivier Haslet

Staff at the Dutch embassy in Ukraine have been cleared to return to the Netherlands if they want to, because of the mounting tension in the region, foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra told broadcaster NOS.

‘It is an enormous dilemma, because you don’t want to leave too early, because then you could potentially contribute to the instability,’ he said after meeting other EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

‘But you don’t want to leave too late, because then you are putting your own people in danger. After what we saw in Afghanistan, that is something we are very aware of.’

The US and UK have already ordered some embassy staff to leave.

Russia has built up a massive presence on the Ukranian border in recent days and there are fears that it might invade. The Kremlin has said it sees Nato as a security threat, and is demanding legal guarantees that the alliance will not expand further east, including into Ukraine.

Sanctions

Hoekstra said that EU countries and the US were working on a package of sanctions which would be put in place if Russia does invade Ukraine. ‘That would be completely justified if we are talking about something as serious as war, or possible war, or infringing on the territorial rights of another country,’ he told NOS.

‘All the options are on the table,’ Hoekstra said. ‘It is now up to the European Commission.’

‘At the same time, we have to continue to talk in the coming weeks and months, even if it is difficult, because a diplomatic solution for this conflict would be best of all.’

On Monday it emerged that the US has 8,500 soldiers on standby who could fly to Europe if necessary, but a final decision about whether they should be deployed has not yet been taken.

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