Dutch election winner Wilders willing to consider more Ukraine aid

By Thomson Reuters Feb 24, 2024 | 6:45 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders signalled he was willing to consider future military aid to Ukraine, as he moved away on Saturday from his earlier resistance to weapon deliveries.

Wilders, who is aiming to lead a new government after his nationalist PVV party won elections in November, has for months argued the Netherlands should stop supplying weapons to Ukraine because it needed them to defend itself.

The Netherlands has been one of the leading donors of military aid to Ukraine, with overall spending expected to pass 4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) by the end of 2024.

Wilders’ resistance to further military aid has been one of several stumbling blocks preventing him from forming a coalition government in the three months since his election victory, but in a post on social media platform X he changed his line.

“The PVV supports Ukraine and is willing to talk about any type of aid,” he said, as he called Russia’s war against Ukraine “illegal and barbaric”.

Wilders’ potential coalition partners had never backed his aim to stop deliveries. On Friday they reiterated that position, and in a joint statement several opposition parties said they wanted to continue economic, political and military support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

That message was echoed by outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a video message to Ukraine on the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

“The Netherlands is with you. Even if it takes a long time and even if it is difficult,” said Rutte, whose candidacy to become secretary-general of NATO was this week backed by the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

Rutte’s caretaker government, in power until a new cabinet is installed, on Friday said it would soon sign a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine, to lock up future aid.

Wilders criticized that deal in his tweet, saying it was not up to a caretaker government to make such long-term agreements.

($1 = 0.9244 euros)

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by David Holmes)