War underlines importance of relationship with U.S., Dutch PM says

The war in Ukraine “underlines the importance” of cooperation with the United States, Prime Minister Mark Rutte wrote in an opinion piece in NRC. He praised the role the U.S. has played in supporting the country since Russia invaded it.

According to the Prime Minister, it is “a fact that this first year of the war would have looked very different without the colossal deployment of American material and resources.” He, therefore, thinks it is important that “we in the Netherlands and Europe appreciate the great role of the United States.”

According to him, the Americans are taking the lead in supporting Ukraine, showing that their country “was born of a deep-rooted desire for freedom and in which ‘we the people’ are in charge through a sophisticated democratic system of checks and balances.”

Rutte also pointed to the risks for American democracy, such as the storming of the Capitol in 2021. “We cannon be blind to that.” At the same time, according to Rutte, American democracy is dynamic and self-renewing, and there is an intrinsic attraction of freedom and self-determination to people worldwide.” Rutte thinks the 21st century will be the century of the US, not China.

Rutte said that Europe can no longer “hide under the U.S. security umbrella” in a NATO context. The Netherlands will start complying with the NATO standard and invest 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in defense.

Rutte will give a guest lecture at Leiden University on Tuesday. His opinion piece is based on that lecture, according to the newspaper. The Prime Minster gives the lecture in the context of a year of war – Friday is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Netherlands sending more soldiers to train Ukrainian troops

The Ministry of Defense announced that it would make another 230 soldiers available for training Ukrainian soldiers and officers. They will contribute to training 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the coming year, the Cabinet said in a letter to parliament.

The training happens in Germany. The first 30 soldiers will be deployed in April and May for four weeks. The other 200 will start in September and August for six weeks.

The Dutch soldiers will also provide training for Ukrainians in Great Britain. The Netherlands will continue contributing to the training operation there throughout the year.

The courses include medical training, operating drones, clearing mines, and driving and sailing exercises. The Ukrainian army must also gain experience with the weapons supplied by the West. The country increasingly has to rely on recruits with no experience, so training is invaluable.

“A year after the Russian invasion, the need to support Ukraine remains as great as ever,” wrote the involved Ministers Kajsa Ollongren (Defense), Wopke Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs), and Liejse Schreinemacher (Development Cooperation). For this year, the government reserved 2.5 billion euros to support Ukraine. Last year, the Netherlands spent over 1 billion euros on military aid for the country.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, will debate the support for Ukraine on Tuesday.

Reporting by ANP

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