The Netherlands expelled Russian diplomats and announced the closure of its consulate in Saint Petersburg

The Netherlands expelled Russian diplomats in the country and announced the closure of its consulate in St. Petersburg (REUTERS) (David W Cerny /)

The foreign minister of the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstraannounced this Saturday that to expel a dozen Russian diplomats in the country, together with the closure of the Russian trade office in Amsterdam and the cessation of activities of the Dutch consulate in Saint Petersburg.

Diplomats have a period of two weeks to leave the country, as detailed by the minister in statements to the media De Telegraafwhile the office in Amsterdam will close on February 21 and the headquarters in Russia on February 20.

The measure is based on a complaint against Moscow in which he is accused of having introduced spies into the country through its diplomatic corps and after what Russia will refuse to grant visas to Dutch diplomats for its embassy in the capital.

Thus, once again, the multiple diplomatic tensions between the two nations, which have led the relationship to reach a “minimum point” since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, almost a year ago and, mainly, after a Dutch court sentenced two Russians and a Ukrainian in absentia in November for their role in the crash of flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.

Hoekstra pointed out that Russia insists on this practice of camouflaging its spies as diplomats, which he considers a “unacceptable” solution and an indication that Relations with the Kremlin “are more difficult than ever”. “We cannot tolerate it and we will not allow it,” she commented, adding that “what is fair is fair. It must be said that normal relations with Russia have been non-existent for a long time.”

In 2022, Hoekstra had already ordered the expulsion of another 17 Russian officials (REUTERS)
In 2022, Hoekstra had already ordered the expulsion of another 17 Russian officials (REUTERS) (PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW /)

This is not the first time, however, that the Netherlands has taken such a move against Moscow. In 2022 had already been finalized expulsion of another 17 Russian diplomats who, according to the intelligence service, were actually spies at the service of Vladimir Putin. In response, fourteen Dutch citizens were also forced to leave Russia.

In any case, beyond these measures, the Minister clarified that the ambassador in Moscow will remain in his post, as will his Russian counterpart in the Netherlands since, he assured, “It is important to keep embassies open as a channel of communication, even now”.

He also explained that the closure of the consulate in St. Petersburg is intended to be simply a temporary measure until there are again enough people available to arrange for its reopening.

The announcement was also given hours after it took place in Munich, Germanythe Security Conference which brought together dozens of diplomats from around the world and whose focus was on the coming year of Russia’s war in Ukraine and ways to strengthen Kiev and end the conflict.

yearbook war ukraine Reuters
Next February 24 will be one year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (REUTERS / Stringer)

In this sense, this Saturday the head of the NATO, Jens Stoltenbergasked those present “give Ukraine what it needs to win” the conflict warlike and for “to prevail as a sovereign and independent nation in Europe”. Volodimir ZelenskyFor his part, he asked the allies to expedite the sending of resources.

We have to hurry. We need speed: speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery… speed of discussions to limit Russian potential. There is no alternative to speed because it is speed on which life depends.”delcaró.

Stoltenberg pointed out, in turn, that “Putin does not plan peace, he plans more war” and that there is “no indication that he has changed his ambitions” by mobilizing “hundreds of thousands of troops” and seizing “more weapons from authoritarian countries like Iran and North Korea.”

(With information from Europa Press and AFP)

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