“Putin is panicking,” says Dutch PM about Russia's military mobilization plan

THE HAGUE - Prime Minister Mark Rutte is not impressed by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s declaration of partial military mobilization. Putin “is panicking,” Rutte said before entering the parliamentary debate on next year’s budget. “You see that Ukraine is starting to act successfully against Russian aggression with Western support.” 


Putin’s partial military mobilization means, among other things, that reservists with military experience will be called up for military service. “The West wants to destroy our country,” Putin said in his first televised speech since Russia invaded Ukraine. To protect Russia, 300,000 reservists will be mobilized on Wednesday, and the Russian government should make more money available for arms production, Putin said. 


The Russian president also accused the West of nuclear blackmail and said that Russia has “a lot of weapons” to respond with. “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people. That is not a bluff.” 


Rutte doesn’t think that the danger from Russia has increased. “It is also not in Russia’s interest to do strange things. Then they also have a huge problem.” 


“It leaves us reasonably Siberian, to stay in Russian terms,” Rutte said of Putin's statements. “But the fact is that the Russians still occupy an area the size of Hungary. This certainly is not over. We have to stay sharp. We have to continue to support Ukraine.” 


Rutte is also not impressed by the Russian rhetoric that the war in Ukraine may result in the use of nuclear weapons. According to the Dutch Prime Minister, that is “also a kind of rhetoric that we have heard more often.” He thinks the Russians should give it "some rest." 


Russia also came up at the beginning of the parliamentary debate about the 2023 budget in a clash between PVV leader Geert Wilders and D66 faction leader Jan Paternotte. Wilders initially lashed out by calling Energy Minister Rob Jetten a "climate psychopath," and euphemistically referred to Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag as a witch by saying she deserved a "golden broom." Both ministers are members of D66. 


Paternotte then called the PVV leader, “Vladimir Putin’s corporate poodle.” He said the PVV votes “as Putin wants it.” Wilders said that he is not on Putin's side, but the Dutch are hurting because of sanctions against Russia. 

CDA leader Pieter Heerma called upon Wilders to account for why the PVV leader denounced the sanctions against Russia. He wanted to know directly from Wilders how he thought he could stop Putin’s aggression. Wilders replied that it was enough for him to fight “the tyranny from Vak K," a reference to the section where the Cabinet sits in the main debate hall at the Tweede Kamer. “I was not elected to solve the problems in the world. I was elected to ensure the Dutch can eat and drink. 


According to Heerma, this was “the weakest answer” Wilders has ever given. 

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