Thursday 08 December 2022

NL will look sympathetically at Ukraine requests for defence support

Wopke Hoekstra. Photo: RVD – Valerie Kuypers en Martijn Beekman

The Netherlands will look sympathetically at the request if Ukraine asks for help with the supply of defensive weapons, foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra has told MPs.

The Netherlands is also working on setting up a team of cyber experts to help Ukraine deal with cyber attacks like those of last week, and is making two F-35 fighter jets available to the Nato quick reaction force, which will be based in Bulgaria, Hoekstra said.

The foreign minister is meeting other European ministers on Monday to discuss Russia’s build-up of troops around Ukraine and to come up with a joint sanctions package which can be invoked if Russia does invade, as some fear.

‘All efforts are aimed at de-escalating the situation through dialogue and diplomacy,’ defence minister Kasja Ollongren said in briefing to MPs.Ultimately, this is in the interest of all parties involved but at the same time, it is important to be prepared should those conversations fail.’

Dutch MPs have said they want the sanctions to ‘make a raid very expensive for [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’, with being cut out of the international banking system Swift and delaying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline among the options.

Hoekstra, however, has concerns about closing the pipeline, pointing out that 40% of European gas comes from Russia which ‘cannot be replaced, just like that’.

Prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs earlier this week that he and Hoekstra also plan to visit Ukraine in response to the escalating tension on the border with Russia.

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