Sunday 22 May 2022

Rutte and Hoekstra to visit Ukraine in response to Russian border tensions

Mark Rutte at a memorial ceremony for MH17 victims in 2019. Photo: EPA/Frank van Beek

Prime minister Mark Rutte and foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra are planning to visit Ukraine in response to the escalating tension on the border with Russia.

Rutte told a debate in parliament that the situation in Ukraine was ‘extremely concerning’ and any incursion by Russian troops should be punished with political and economic sanctions.

‘The costs of aggression will be high,’ Rutte said, even for a ‘less wide-ranging military action’.

Fears have grown in recent weeks about the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. German chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, built to carry gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea, could be delayed if there is a ‘military intervention’.

Russia has said it wants to stop Ukraine becoming a member of NATO and accused Germany of politicising the pipeline project. Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said opening the pipeline would give Europe access to more secure energy.

The Netherlands has been one of the strongest voices in Europe for maintaining sanctions against Russia since the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014, which a Dutch forensic investigation has blamed on Russian-backed separatists.

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