Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday he intends to join German-US efforts to arm Ukraine with sophisticated Patriot air-defense systems, citing the “horrible” Russian missile strike on a Dnipro apartment building.
Rutte told President Joe Biden at a White House meeting that “we have the intention to join what you’re doing with Germany on the Patriots project, the air-defense system. I think that is important and we joined that.”
While the Netherlands does have the US-made system used for shooting down incoming rockets, it was not clear whether Rutte meant sending an actual Patriot battery.
Germany announced on January 5 that it was following the United States in sending Ukraine a battery. However, Rutte said later in an interview with CNN that “it doesn’t have to be a whole system.”
“It could also be gear as part of the system,” he said, also referring to helping with “interoperability, the training.”
“We will be part of that coalition with Germany and the US,” he said.
In his White House talks, Rutte cited the “terrible footage” of an apartment building destroyed by a powerful Russian missile in the city of Dnipro on Saturday, saying “these are horrible pictures and I think it strengthens even more our resolve to stay with Ukraine.”
He told Biden that he’d discussed the Patriots with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier Tuesday.
Despite Rutte’s somewhat unclear statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily national address that he’d received “very important news” from the Dutch leader.
“Another Patriot battery will be provided to Ukraine. Thanks Mark!” Zelensky said, adding that this would mean “three guaranteed” Patriot batteries.
Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren meanwhile issued a statement saying that the Netherlands is “in consultation with the United States and Germany to provide a Patriot capacity.”
For his part, Biden praised the Dutch contribution to a US-led Western alliance supporting Ukraine against Russian invasion and said, “Russia is continuing to act in ways that are almost unbelievable.”
— Wopke Hoekstra (@WBHoekstra) January 17, 2023
The White House said that Biden also talked by phone Tuesday with Scholz, saying only they “discussed their steadfast support to Ukraine and condemned Russia’s aggression.”
They also “discussed their ongoing assistance to Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.