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The situation in Russia and Ukraine: update on the latest developments

NETHERLANDS, February 18 - News item | 16-02-2022 | 17:54

The situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border remains tense despite calls by the international community to de-escalate. In a letter to the House of Representatives this week, the government lays out the various diplomatic efforts being made, specifying the Netherlands’ objectives. The letter also notes the precautions being taken by the Netherlands in case Russia should invade Ukraine.

The situation on the border is constantly changing. Although Russia has said that it is not planning to invade Ukraine, there is still a substantial Russian military force stationed along the border. So far there have been no signs to suggest that Russia is withdrawing large numbers of its soldiers.

The Netherlands’ position

The Netherlands seeks to prevent a further escalation of tension, through international dialogue and diplomacy. This is and remains the Netherlands’ central objective. But the government also recognises that diplomatic efforts have yet to create a breakthrough.

It is unclear if Russia will wish to continue talking if its demands are not met. The chance of escalation continues to exist. In light of that, the government is preparing for every scenario, in close cooperation with our allies within the EU and NATO.

In addition to promoting dialogue, the Netherlands is also committed to deterrence, for example through its military contribution to existing NATO defence capabilities in Eastern Europe. The Netherlands also firmly backs a strong message to Russia: the costs of further aggression will be high.

Travel advisory

Since 12 February the travel advisory for Ukraine (in Dutch) has been at red (i.e. ‘do not travel’). This is in line with advisories issued by other countries, including the United States and various European countries.

Dutch nationals in Ukraine

On 11 February the Dutch embassy in Kyiv organised an online information session for Dutch nationals in Ukraine. In addition the Netherlands has set up a meeting point in Lviv to provide emergency assistance to Dutch people seeking to cross the border. Dutch nationals can report here to receive a laissez-passer or an emergency visa.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged Dutch nationals in Ukraine to register with the Ministry so the embassy knows how many Dutch nationals are in the country. However, it is not possible for the Dutch authorities to obtain a complete overview of the total number of Dutch nationals in Ukraine, as registration is not mandatory, and people are free to leave the country as they choose.

Embassy in Ukraine

The staff at the embassy in Kyiv has been reduced to a skeleton crew. They will remain in the Ukrainian capital as long as they can do so safely. Sensitive equipment in the embassy has been disconnected and secured. Other staff members and their families are being repatriated to the Netherlands. A number of embassy staff have been transferred to the meeting point in Lviv.

Sanctions

The Netherlands supports a robust package of EU sanctions to deter Russia from any further aggression. The subject of this package of sanctions is being actively discussed, both by EU member states and non-EU countries.

Support for Ukraine

Ukraine has previously submitted a request to the Netherlands for military goods. On february 18, the government of the Netherlands announced that the Netherlands intends to supply military goods to Ukraine.