Prime minister Mark Rutte has again condemned Russia’s decision to formally recognise two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and send in troops as a ‘peacekeeping’ force.
‘This cannot go unanswered,’ the prime minister said after cabinet talks. ‘It is unacceptable for Russia to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty by recognising Luhansk and Donetsk.’
‘At the moment, the military situation on the ground is not yet entirely clear,’ Rutte said. ‘The Netherlands’ aim is to keep maximum pressure on Russia. The government is in close consultation with allies and partners, including Ukraine, about the next steps.’
MPs from the main Dutch political parties on Tuesday called on the EU, Britain and the US to impose tough sanctions on Russia.
D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma described events in Ukraine as a Russian invasion. ‘This could be personal sanctions, such as freezing the assets of everyone involved on the Russian side,’ he said. ‘This has to hurt Putin and his allies, because otherwise he will just continue.’
SP MP Jasper van Dijk also called for sanctions, but said they needed to be applied carefully. ‘The ordinary Russian and the ordinary Dutchman don’t have much to do with all this,’ he said.
Far right MPs, however, said they did not favour taking action against Russia. PVV leader Geert Wilders said economic sanctions would lead to higher energy bills and millions more refugees.
The EU published its proposal for sanctions on Tuesday afternoon and EU leaders are expected to vote on it on Tuesday evening. To come into effect, all 27 member states must bein favour and this may prove difficult, given Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orbán’s support for Putin.
In addition, Austria, Germany, and Italy, all of which have friendly Russia ties, have stressed the importance of ‘incremental steps’, website EU Observer reported.
Last week, the Dutch cabinet has agreed to supply 100 sniper rifles, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, 3,000 helmets, 2,000 bullet proof vests, and several weapon and mine detection systems to Ukraine.
The decision was taken following a request from Ukraine for military support and the items on the list are in line with EU rules for arms exports, foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Friday.
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