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Europe in the World

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Dutch narratives about Russian-Western relations

21 Dec 2017 - 12:50
Bron: Minister president Rutte / Flickr

This is a chapter from the book 'Security Narratives in Europe: A Wide Range of Views'.

Over the centuries, relations between the Netherlands and Russia had been good (partly because Germany lay in between). After the Second World War, the Netherlands usually followed the lead of the United States in its relations with the USSR. Since the end of the Cold War it has, with some success, concentrated on developing mutually beneficial relations, mainly in the economic field, hoping that Russia would gradually develop into a stable democracy built on the rule of law.

The Netherlands does not have a tradition of independent strategic thinking. When problems, such as the Russian occupation of the Crimea, arose it usually followed the lead of its larger allies in NATO and EU. However, the downing of flight MH17 by a Russian Buk missile, which killed a large number of Dutch citizens, and the Dutch referendum that rejected the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine are issues that the Dutch government will have to address itself. Dutch political parties and public opinion are unused to that.