Cabinet ‘benevolent’ as Ukraine asks for arms support, F-35s to Bulgaria

If Ukraine asks the Netherlands for the supply of defensive weapons, the cabinet will look at it benevolently. Minister Hoekstra for Foreign Affairs said that in the House of Representatives. The Netherlands is already setting up a cyber team to help the country with cyber attacks like last week‘s.

In addition, the defense makes two F-35 fighter aircraft available to NATO. They will operate from Bulgaria in April and May. The F-35s will perform so-called Quick Reaction Alert tasks to intercept unknown aircraft over the NATO Convention Area.

Hoekstra will talk to his European colleagues on Monday about Russia’s troop building around Ukraine. The aim is to come up with a joint sanction package for when Russia invades the country. Tomorrow there will also be consultations between the US and Russia again. The US Secretary of State Blinken meets his counterpart Lavrov in Geneva.

A majority of the House of Representatives wants the sanctions to โ€œmake a raid for Putin very expensive,โ€ as D66 MP Sjoerdsma said it. Russia should then be shut down from the international banking system Swift and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project should not be put into use as far as a majority of the Chamber is concerned.

Hoekstra did not want to anticipate the sanctions package yet, but does not preclude keeping Nord Stream 2 closed in advance. It‘s not simple, he says.

โ€œForty percent of European gas comes from Russia, you don’t just replace that,โ€ Hoekstra said. โ€œAnd that is extremely uncomfortable when you criticize a country for the troop movements and the aggressive language that is being beaten out.โ€

Incidentally, it will not be easy to get all EU countries behind the same sanction package, foresees Hoekstra. Not all countries think the same about Russia‘s aggressive attitude and what needs to be done about it. Economic sanctions, such as a blockade of the banking system, can also have negative consequences for the economy of EU countries themselves.

NATO is very concerned about Russian troop building on the border of Ukraine. But according to Putin, NATO itself is wrong. How does he look at Eastern Europe?

Also in the Chamber, not all groups are aligned. SP MP Van Dijk showed an understanding of the statements made by Russian President Putin who believes that too many NATO countries are coming close to his borders. โ€œNATO has moved east, that’s a fact,โ€ said Van Dijk.

That shot D66 MP Sjoerdsma, blacklisted by Russia for his criticism, into the wrong throat. โ€œThese are texts that you hear on the Russian propaganda channel RT, and should not be heard on the left side of the House of Representatives.โ€

By the way, most groups do not think it is wise to allow Ukraine to join NATO at the moment, although they believe that the country is mainly about it itself. Yesterday, Prime Minister Rutte announced that he and Hoekstra will soon be visiting Ukraine to talk to the government about the situation.