Russia and Ukraine: questions and answers about the situation on the border

Please note: this news item was published on 25 January. Read more about the situation in Russia and Ukraine.

The situation on the border between Ukraine and Russia remains precarious. Talks are ongoing between diplomats, military personnel and government leaders with the aim of preventing tensions from escalating further. Where does the Netherlands stand on the issues? And what measures is the Netherlands taking? Below you will find answers to a number of important questions.

Where does the Netherlands stand?

The Netherlands is very concerned about the tensions at the Ukraine-Russia border. It is important to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. To that end we must keep the lines of communication with Russia open. At the same time, together with the EU and NATO we are clear that any new aggression on Russia’s part will have serious consequences. In this respect, the EU member states have agreed that substantial sanctions will be imposed, if the situation calls for it.

Russia’s demands regarding NATO enlargement and the withdrawal of weapons from Eastern European countries are unacceptable to NATO, the EU and the Netherlands. However, it is necessary to talk to Russia about its concerns. This will allow us to make agreements about military exercises and the presence of certain types of missiles in Eastern Europe. The matter of whether Ukraine can join NATO is a decision for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies. The Netherlands takes the view that Ukraine could join in the future but it is not currently in compliance with the criteria for membership.

What is the Netherlands’ role in this situation?

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is engaged in consultations with other countries worldwide, for example within NATO, the EU and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Because we stand stronger together.

Talks have already been held with Russia in Geneva, Brussels, Vienna and Moscow about the current situation. All of the consultations taking place have one clear goal: to prevent tensions from escalating further. The Netherlands supports this process and will continue to play an active role in it. An open dialogue with Russia is important, especially when it comes to issues we disagree on. We are also working with other countries to make sure preparations are in place in case the situation deteriorates.

In this regard, the Netherlands will be sending two F-35 aircraft to NATO Ally Bulgaria. The fighter jets will be deployed to intercept unidentified aircraft over NATO territory. The Netherlands is also open to carefully considering the possibility of providing Ukraine with defensive military support.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra will be visiting Ukraine soon to show that the Netherlands supports Ukraine’s independence and recognises its territorial borders.