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Dutch diplomat’s Putin meeting tale is 'Netherlands' internal affair' — Russian embassy

February 13, 17:11 UTC+3 THE HAGUE

Halbe Zijlstra said that in 2006 he attended a meeting with Putin, when the Russian leader allegedly said he considered Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Kazakhstan as part of "Greater Russia"

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Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra

Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra

© EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

THE HAGUE, February 13. /TASS/. The situation around Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra, who lied about a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006, is the "internal affair of the Netherlands," the Russian Embassy there said in a press release on Tuesday. The copy of this statement was obtained by the TASS representative office in The Hague.

According to the press release, the Russian diplomatic mission "took note of the interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Halbe Zijlstra that was published on February 12 in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant."

In that interview, the minister admitted that he had lied about being at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006.

Earlier, Zijlstra said that in early 2006 as a representative of Shell he attended a meeting with Putin, when the Russian leader allegedly said he considered Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Kazakhstan as part of "Greater Russia."

"The Foreign Minister’s statement is being widely commented in the Netherlands. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and a number of prominent politicians and parliamentarians have spoken their minds. We are not in a position to comment on their assessments of Minister Zijlstra’s actions. We consider it as an internal affair of the Netherlands," the Russian embassy said.

At the same time, the Russian diplomatic mission stressed that it cannot ignore "how perceptions of Russia’s aggressive intentions are being persistently propagated in the Dutch public opinion."

"As we can see, this is the reason behind this whole story with the alleged meeting between Minister Zijlstra and President Putin," the Russian diplomatic mission said.

"The attempts to attribute to Russia "great-power ambitions" and the desire to recreate "the Soviet Empire" do not hold up against any criticism. This can only be heard from those who are interested in presenting Russia as an enemy and who under the pretext of the notorious "Russian threat" keep pushing NATO military infrastructure eastwards, therefore consciously provoking military confrontation.".

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