Beata Stur

The Netherlands and Belgium reiterate their unwavering support for Ukraine

Office of the President of Ukraine
President Zelenskyy (left) with Prime Ministers Mark Rutte, and Alexander De Croo (right).

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, arrived in a surprise visit to Netherlands on 3 April. During his visit he met with the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, and Belgium Alexander De Croo. The talks took place both one-on-one and in a trilateral format.

President of Ukraine also met with King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands Vera Bergkamp and President of the Senate Jan Anthonie Bruijn, and President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Piotr Hofmański and Registrar of the Court Osvaldo Zavala Giler.

After the meetings, Prime Minister of the Netherlands and President of Ukraine issued a Declaration on accountability for Ukraine. On May 4 the Netherlands and Belgium in a Joint Declaration with Ukraine, reiterated “their unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, as well their full support to Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence and to choose its own security arrangements”.

“Ukraine, Belgium and the Netherlands reiterate their demand, in accordance with the 16 March 2022 Order of the International Court of Justice, that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, including military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by the Russian Federation, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction”.

The Netherlands and Belgium strongly support Ukraine

Speaking to the media following the talks, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “We are meeting here in The Hague to bring peace closer and restore justice. We need justice.”

The President of Ukraine expressed gratitude to Mark Rutte and the people of the Netherlands for their powerful assistance in strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

“The Patriot and other weapons that the Netherlands provided us have already saved thousands of Ukrainian lives! Thank you!” he said.

President Zelenskyy thanked Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and the whole of Belgium for solidarity in the protection of common European values.

“Thank you for your support of sanctions against Russia and aid packages for our country and people,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.

During the talks, the parties focused on security issues. The President of Ukraine focused on the necessity to speed the delivery of the promised weapons.

“I have called on our partners, both the Netherlands and Belgium, to help us implement the agreements on military assistance – as quickly as possible. Very important is that we are working to create a coalition of armoured vehicles to complement the existing coalition of tanks. We hope that the Netherlands and Belgium, together with the Nordic countries and all our partners, will effectively support our initiative to create a coalition of armoured vehicles,” the Head of State emphasized.

In addition, Zelenskyy said it is time to make positive decisions for Ukraine regarding modern aircraft.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands stressed that his country will continue to support Ukraine in its struggle, and Russia must be held accountable for the crime of aggression and injustice it commits against the Ukrainian people.

“The Netherlands will do everything possible to ensure justice for Ukraine, no matter how long it takes and no matter how difficult it is,” said Mark Rutte.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands said that Russian aggression reminds the world that the rule of law must be constantly protected.

“Ukraine will remain in our hearts and memory not only today, but every day until peace and freedom are restored in your country,” he said.

The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium reminded that his country, like the Netherlands and many other countries, supported Ukraine since the first days of the full-scale invasion.

“We will continue this support and demonstrate our solidarity with Ukraine. Now it’s our turn to help Ukraine get rid of the brutal and illegal occupation again. This is the same occupation that our countries experienced during World War II. That is why the Belgian government is preparing a new package of military assistance to Ukraine,” assured Alexander De Croo.

He reminded that since the beginning of the war, Belgium had frozen more than 50 billion euros in assets of Russian individuals and legal entities.

“We are now exploring how we can fully utilize the proceeds of these Russian assets to support the reconstruction of Ukraine. Belgium is ready to play a leading role in this in the European Commission,” said the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium.

A European perspective for Ukraine

The agenda of the talks between Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mark Rutte and Alexander De Croo also included relations between Ukraine and the EU. The President of Ukraine noted that he expects a positive assessment of Ukraine’s progress in implementing the European Commission’s recommendations.

“We are doing our best during the war, we are doing all the reforms that we have to do, and this will be the time when political positive momentum will open the way to a new and long-lasting positive history both for Ukraine and for the whole of Europe,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy is convinced. 

Euro-Atlantic security

The interlocutors also discussed common Euro-Atlantic security.

“De facto, Ukraine has already become a part of NATO – we cooperate, we trust each other and together we truly make Europe stronger. So, it stands to reason that Ukraine should become part of the Alliance de jure – the thirty-third NATO country. The algorithm of actions in this regard can and should be approved by political decisions at the Vilnius summit of the Alliance this summer. And we count-on the support of our partners,” the President emphasized.

The Head of State expressed gratitude for the support of the Ukrainian Peace Formula that can not only restore territorial integrity and security of Ukraine, but also reliably guarantee long-term security of Europe and the world.

“This is our joint task – to restore the full force of the UN Charter and international law in general – everything that was violated by Putin and Russia. Peace calls for sanctions to be stronger, for the isolation of Russia to be more complete. Peace calls for assets of the terrorist state to be confiscated. And peace calls for damages to be repaired and ruins to be rebuilt. And I am sure – we will do it together,” the Head of State said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy focused on the preparations for the NATO Summit in Vilnius, emphasising the importance of adopting specific decisions on Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance and providing Ukraine with security guarantees until it joins NATO.

Prime Ministers of Belgium and the Netherlands acknowledged the significant contribution of Ukrainian forces to the security of Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.

“Together with partners and through international cooperation in the European Union, NATO, Ukraine Defence Contact Group and other formats, Belgium and the Netherlands will support Ukraine’s military, and security and defence sector in the longer term. Until Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, Belgium and the Netherlands are committed to support Ukraine on its path to further Euro-Atlantic integration and strengthening Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself against the current Russian war of aggression and against any future threat,” empasises the Joint Declaration.

Belgium and the Netherlands consider the security of Ukraine of great importance to the Alliance and will promote long term NATO interoperability, reform and reconstruction of Ukraine’s defence industry, institution and capacity building within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine partnership.

“A clear roadmap for the sustainable transition of Ukraine’s armed forces to NATO standards, doctrine and institutions is a priority, as well as sufficient financial support. Ukraine, the Netherlands and Belgium look forward to discussing these issues at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023,” emphasased the Joint Declaration.

Addressing the Dutch Parliament

During his official visit, President Zelenskyy addressed the Dutch Parliament. 

He thanked the leaders of the Parliament for a clear and active position of the legislative body in support of Ukraine and significant steps that helped Ukraine to repel Russian aggression.

“Today, the Netherlands is among the leaders of support for Ukraine and one of our key allies in protecting the values of freedom,” he stressed.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the adoption of several resolutions in support of Ukraine by the Dutch Parliament, particularly on the country’s leadership in the international prosecution of Russia for crimes in Ukraine and the establishment of a Special Tribunal in The Hague to try Russia’s top leadership.

“A year has passed since I addressed the Parliament and the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the first time,” he said. “On the thirty-sixth day of the full-scale war, I spoke about why you and I and all Europeans, the whole world should unite… Unite to defend freedom and human lives. A year ago, I said that this war cannot be forgiven – none of the crimes committed by Russia. I said that The Hague knew exactly – how to bring all Russian murderers to justice”.

The President expressed special gratitude to the Dutch Parliament for its support in granting Ukraine the status of an EU membership candidate.

[President Zelenskyy met with President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Registrar of the Court. Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine]

Justice for war criminals and genocide

During his official visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, President Zelenskyy met with President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Piotr Hofmański and Registrar of the Court Osvaldo Zavala Giler.

Ukrainian President emphasized that bringing to justice all those responsible for war crimes against humanity and genocide of the Ukrainian people is a matter of principle for Ukraine.

“For us, the result is only concrete sentences for all Russian war criminals, including the top leadership of the aggressor country,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.

He praised the work of the International Criminal Court in this area, in particular, noting the importance of the decision to issue arrest warrants for the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the Commissioner for Children’s Rights on charges of deporting Ukrainian children.

“These crimes require special, priority attention. We must increase pressure on Russia to stop mass deportations and create a universal mechanism for the protection of children,” the Head of State said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the level of cooperation between the ICC and national law enforcement agencies, and the importance of opening a branch of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in Kyiv in the nearest future, which would further strengthen the relevant interaction.

Explore more