22 February 2022, by Victoria Séveno
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has responded to the news of Russian forces entering Ukraine on Monday night, labelling President Vladimir Putin as “paranoid” and condemning the country’s show of force.
Russia recognises Donetsk and Lugansk, forces enter Ukraine
After weeks of anticipation, tensions between Russia and Ukraine reached boiling point on Monday night as Putin officially recognised the independence of two Ukrainian states, Donetsk and Luhansk, in a televised broadcast. Shortly thereafter, news broke that the Russian president had ordered troops into eastern Ukraine as part of a “peacekeeping mission.”
While Putin remains adamant that forces in Ukraine “are being instructed to maintain the peace”, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has accused Russia of violating the integrity and sovereignty of his country. The Kremlin writes that the move was carried out at the request of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
It remains unclear how large Russia’s deployment will be and what military action will be taken, but in spite of the Kremlin’s insistence that the troops have been ordered to keep the peace, the move to cross the border means the country has become militarily active in Ukraine.
Putin is totally paranoid, Dutch Prime Minister says
The news from Russia arrived as the Dutch Prime Minister discussed the escalating situation in Eastern Europe on the talk show Jinek. As part of his interview, Rutte had proclaimed that, as part of the European Union, the Netherlands would impose “enormous sanctions” on Russia should the country take military action against Ukraine.
In response to news of Russia’s “peacekeeping mission”, Rutte told presenter Eva Jinek that Putin was “of course, totally paranoid.” The Prime Minister voiced his fears that the latest move from Russia could be the first step towards a Russian invasion of the Donbas region in Ukraine, and he was quick to leave the show after the news broke in order to look into the consequences of Russia’s decision, saying he found it “uncomfortable” to sit there any longer.
US President Joe Biden has already imposed sanctions and has condemned Russia’s decision. The EU is yet to take any decisive action, but in his interview on Monday Rutte confirmed that the EU was preparing a “limited package of sanctions.” The Dutch government announced last week that the Netherlands would supply Ukraine with military supplies, and on Tuesday the EU announced it had agreed to carry out military training in Ukraine.