Ukrainian President Zelensky visited the Netherlands today. He went through a busy schedule, with meetings with Prime Minister Rutte and King Willem-Alexander, among others. He called for further military support for his country, and for a tribunal in The Hague to try war crimes in Ukraine, including Russian President Putin.
The visit was carefully prepared, but was only announced last night. Zelensky arrived at Schiphol shortly afterwards with the Dutch government aircraft. The Ukrainian president and his delegation were taken in a large procession, with police escort and their own security, to a hotel in The Hague to spend the night.
This is what Zelensky’s arrival at Schiphol-East looked like on Wednesday evening:
The president was already up on time this morning. After leaving his hotel, his first stop was the United Assembly of the States General. In the plenary hall of the Senate, he addressed about 75 members of the Senate and House of Representatives who were present. He received a standing ovation upon entering. In his speech, he thanked the Netherlands for supporting Ukraine and said that he thought it was special to be in our country on May 4, the day of Remembrance Day.
After the visit to the Senate, Zelensky visited the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He was received there by the President of the Criminal Court, Piotr Hofmański, and the Registrar. Inside he was updated on the current work of the criminal court. The ICC is investigating crimes committed in the war in Ukraine. The Netherlands supports that investigation with money, but also with Marechaussees who search for evidence of crimes in Ukraine.
‘Clear in its message’
It was a flash visit, because at 11 a.m. Zelensky had to be around the corner at the World Forum conference center to give a speech on justice and prosecuting war crimes. No peace without justice for Ukraine, was the title.
Most of the 150 or so in attendance only received an invitation last night; the meeting was prepared in great secrecy. They heard the Ukrainian president give a speech in English about, among other things, Boocha, the attacks on Kherson and Uman and about flight MH17. In the middle of his speech, he asked for a moment of silence for the victims.
In the speech, Zelensky emphasized why he is in the Netherlands, said former ambassador Robert Serry afterwards. It is the president’s wish that a Ukraine tribunal be set up in The Hague. “As always with his speeches, he was very clear in his message: a tribunal as the only answer to aggression.”
Minister Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs was also present at the World Forum and told Zelensky and the audience that the Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine.
Watch the full World Forum speech here:
The Ukrainian president’s next appointment was only about 600 meters away, at the Catshuis, where he spoke with Prime Minister Rutte and Belgian Prime Minister De Croo.
Afterwards, the three heads of government gave a short press conference. Rutte emphasized that the Netherlands will do everything possible to try Russian war crimes in Ukraine. He also said that the Netherlands is discussing the possible supply of F16s to Ukraine with partners such as Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom. De Croo indicated that Belgium is preparing a new military support package.
Delivering fighter jets is a sensitive matter, Rutte said:
Zelensky was driven from the Catshuis to Huis ten Bosch Palace for a meeting with King Willem-Alexander. It was the first time the king met the Ukrainian president. It is not clear what exactly the two discussed with each other.
This is what the meeting in the king’s residence looked like:
After the conversation at the king’s palace, Zelensky went to Soesterberg military base. Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Defense Ollongren joined him there.
The minister showed the equipment that had been promised to Ukraine. “We see here the relief and the protection of life,” the Ukrainian president said of the armored howitzer, patriot air defense system, armored reconnaissance vehicle and other equipment on display at the base. Ollongren also promised Zelensky a mobile laboratory for investigations, which can be used to investigate possible war crimes on location.
Zelensky also spoke at Soesterberg with Ukrainians who have been wounded on the battlefield and are being cared for in the Netherlands, and young Ukrainian soldiers who have been trained by the Netherlands. Dutch soldiers and defense personnel were also present during the visit, from whom Zelensky received two loud applause.
The president thus concluded his visit to our country. He left from Schiphol-East with the Dutch government aircraft.
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