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The Netherlands denounces Russian aversion to the rule of law, but continues to hope

The Dutch government believes that Russia is increasingly turning away from the international legal order, but wants to maintain contacts with Moscow. Foreign minister Stef Blok (VVD) writes this in a note to parliament about the new Dutch Russia policy. He plays hard at Russia.

The letter describes how the Netherlands intends to shape its relationship with Russia in the coming years, while the two countries currently have an extremely cold relationship. The current relationship finds its origin in 2013, the Russia-Netherlands friendship year.

Less than seven years ago, President Putin and King Willem-Alexander drank another beer, but soon after, everything went wrong between the two countries. From violations of human rights to picking up the second man at the Russian embassy. This was followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea, the war in Eastern Ukraine, MH17 and Syria. Since then, the Netherlands has been struggling with Russia.

In his letter to the House of Representatives, Blok says that Russia is trying to play European Union member states against each other and weaken NATO. The Netherlands will opt for a combination of "pressure and selective cooperation" in its foreign policy. The Netherlands does want to stay in touch with the country because there are still common interests, such as fighting terrorism, organized crime and proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also combating climate change.

In 2015, the then government also issued a policy letter about Russia. At the time it was written that Russia seemed to be openly turning away from the international legal order, human rights and European security. This trend has continued in recent years, says Blok.

The new Dutch Russia strategy was drawn up at the request of the Second Chamber. Blok points, among other things, to espionage activities by Russia and the distribution of disinformation via digital means. For example, Russian hackers tried to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague in 2018.

Particularly because of the investigation into the Russian involvement in the shooting of the MH17, according to Blok, the Netherlands is 'an interesting target' for Russian espionage.

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