NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 18:41
Wessel de Jong & Chiem Balduk
Wessel de Jong & Chiem Balduk
“Will an ultra-right opponent of aid to Ukraine become Prime Minister of the Netherlands?” was the headline in Evropejska Pravda after the election win of Geert Wilders’ PVV. The Ukrainian news site describes how the “Viktor Orbán of The Hague” took a pro-Russian position in the past and voted against support for Ukraine. “Although Ukraine was not an issue in the campaign, we should not expect anything positive from the PVV,” the site said.
For example, more concerned articles about Wilders’ win can be read in the Ukrainian media. News site NV speaks of the “Captain peroxide of the European Trump family”. News program TSN recalls that Wilders did not attend President Zelensky’s speech before the House of Representatives. Concerns are also expressed at the public broadcaster about Wilders’ resistance to Ukraine.
In short: concerns in Ukraine about the PVV’s profits. “There is a lot of pessimism here and there are fears of a further decline in support from the West,” says Ukrainian analyst Hliv Volosky of the NGO Povernys Zjivim. After the election victory of the pro-Russian Fico in Slovakia, Ukraine could lose another loyal ally, it is feared.
Wilders against delivery of F-16
There is also concern among Ukrainians in the Netherlands. “I am concerned that aid to Ukraine is being reduced,” said Jana Rudenko, who survived the Russian occupation of Butcha and now lives in The Hague. “The Netherlands is very important to us. I am counting down the days until the F-16s are delivered. They will protect us against the Russian missiles fired at our homes.”
Under Rutte, ANPNederland had a pioneering role in supplying F-16s to Ukraine
Wilders has strongly opposed the supply of F-16s to Ukraine, because in his view it is an “offensive means” that “brings the Netherlands into a war”. In the election manifesto, the PVV wrote that equipment for Ukraine should be retained for its own armed forces. The party condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but has repeatedly voted against arms supplies to Ukraine. The PVV also opposed sanctions against Russia.
Outgoing Minister of Defense Ollongren said this morning that he hopes that support for Ukraine will remain intact. “That is also important for our own security, because Russia will not stop waging war if it wins in Ukraine,” Ollongren said.
Majority in support
In Ukraine it is feared that the Netherlands will join the line of Hungary within Europe, which is against arms support to Ukraine. “They are also concerned that the Netherlands will become an obstacle to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and NATO,” says Robert Serry, former ambassador to Ukraine. He hopes that the PVV will also continue to support Ukraine.
“The PVV stands for freedom. And it is precisely in Ukraine that they fight for that freedom. If this war ends badly, this will also have consequences for our freedom,” says Serry. “I hope that the VVD, which brought this on itself by shutting down the government, feels responsibility to prevent the Netherlands from abandoning Ukraine.”
An overwhelming majority of the Dutch population supports Ukraine, according to a survey by I&O Research two months ago. Six in ten respondents said they support Dutch support for Ukraine, but this does not apply to PVV voters.
Jana Roedenko draws hope from the broad support of the Dutch. “The vast majority of people here understand our pain and want to support us.”
This can also be read in most Ukrainian news media. “The majority of parliament remains pro-Ukrainian. The PVV’s win does not mean that the Netherlands is tired of Ukraine,” writes Hliv Volosky in an analysis for Evropejska Pravda. He also points out that the Netherlands is a coalition country and that Wilders will have to soften his position on Ukraine in a coalition with, for example, NSC.
The Ukrainian government has not formally commented on the election win. President Zelensky did have a telephone conversation with Rutte today. It became spoken on, among other things, “maintaining European unity and continuing military support”.
“Kyiv wants to continue talking to everyone and explaining why support is needed,” said Ukrainian analyst Volosky. For example, Donald Trump, who is skeptical about support for Ukraine and hopes to become president again next year, has been invited by Zelensky to visit Kyiv. If Wilders becomes prime minister, he will probably also receive an invitation soon.