The Netherlands supports Ukraine in the fight against Russia by supplying weapons. A large number of European countries do the same. But how does Russia view that support? “The West could inadvertently be sucked into the conflict.”
Hundreds of weapons have already been sent to Ukraine, from anti-tank weapons to sniper rifles and anti-aircraft missiles. NATO, including the Netherlands, explicitly does not send any troops. The weapons are destined for the Ukrainian army.
Adaja Stoetman is a European Defense researcher at the Clingendael Institute. She explains that the Netherlands should not have had to offer aid to Ukraine. “Ukraine is not a member of NATO and of the European Union. Therefore, we have no real obligation to assist the country.”
According to Stoetman, the West should therefore always think carefully about the way in which they want to support Ukraine. “Because action leads to reaction. Europe can make different choices. Economically by introducing sanctions, with political messages or by sending military support.”
Europe mainly opted for a hard package of sanctions, but various countries are now also supplying Ukraine with weapons. Even the EU pays for weapons for the first time in history and then delivers them to Ukraine.
“That can be called historic. This shows Europe that it shows solidarity with Ukraine and that we do not accept that Russia simply violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent country.”
Researcher Adaja Stoetman and Russia expert Laura Starink talk at EenVandaag about the consequences of sending Dutch weapons to Ukraine
On the side of Ukraine
By supplying only arms, the countries are officially abstaining from the war. “The European countries are not actively fighting. We support the Ukrainian army and do not contribute ourselves by sending troops,” emphasizes Stoetman.
However, there are certainly risks associated with this tactic. “Simply because Russia can interpret this as if the West is already involved in the war,” Stoetman explains. “Russia may therefore be of the opinion that the West has sided with Ukraine. This can lead to the West being unintentionally and undesirably drawn into the conflict.”
Muscle language on Twitter
In addition, European countries are absolutely not secretive about how they help Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense posts the number of weapons that will be delivered and the time of departure publicly on Twitter. Minister Kajsa Ollongren proudly shares that himself, with muscle-emoji and all.
Stoetman understands why this happens. “You do this mainly for a domestic effect. It is good for transparency in the Netherlands and accountability to parliament. It shows that they are not standing on the sidelines, but are actively making efforts to support Ukraine.”
Looking in the cards
Yet all this information towards Russia may be less sensible. “It’s not very strategic,” says Stoetman. “It allows you to look at your cards. Because of this, Russia knows exactly which weapons are delivered where and when.”
It gives the country an advantage in battle. “So it would be wiser not to announce this publicly anymore.”
Troops to the East
While it is now limited to weapons, there is a chance that more Dutch troops will move east. However, these will not end up in Ukraine. “If NATO calls for this, you will see that more troops are sent to NATO’s eastern flank. For example, to Lithuania, where the Netherlands is already present, but it could also be to Poland or Romania.”
“NATO hopes that this will deter Russia. It clearly shows that Russia should not try to enter NATO territory. NATO wants to prevent that at all times.”