Politician entry ban escalates Russian-Dutch row
Mark Rutte says ban on entry to Russia lacks ‘foundation in international law’
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte: with relations already tense over the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, he said: “We condemn Russia’s actions – and we have told them so.” Photograph: ANP/Siese Veenstra/AFP
Diplomatic relations between Moscow and the Netherlands worsened last night when Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte described a decision to ban three MPs from entering Russia as “lacking any foundation in international law”.
With relations already strained to breaking point over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and the arrest of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise two years ago, Mr Rutte said: “We condemn Russia’s actions – and we have told them so.”
It’s understood the names of the three MPs were included on a list delivered by the Russian foreign ministry to the Dutch embassy in Moscow on Thursday – though it remains unclear whether there were others included in the travel ban.
Privately, it’s acknowledged that the ban is in retaliation for Dutch backing for EU sanctions following the Russian annexation of Crimea last year – sanctions whose continuation was linked recently by the 28 EU leaders to Ukraine regaining control of its borders by December 31st.
Perhaps he shouldn’t be too surprised. A former MEP for Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party, who later took a seat in parliament before being expelled for criticising his leader, Mr Bontes has been equally outspoken about Russian president Vladimir Putin, describing him as “a KGB crook”.
Like much of the Dutch public, Mr Bontes is convinced of Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17 last July with the loss of 298 lives.
Russia denies any involvement in the shooting down of the Boeing airliner – claiming it was shot down by a Ukrainian air force fighter jet.