Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who can do without any geopolitical dramas because he leads a fragile coalition government, this week faced a vote of no confidence in the national parliament after his foreign minister finally came clean over a dangerous lie he has been telling for two years concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin.
FM Halbe Zijlstra quit in shame on Monday after admitting his claim about personally hearing Putin plotting to create a "greater Russia" was untrue. Rutte, who has suuported Zijlstra's claims and been one of the most belligerent European leaders against Russia faced the "no confidence" motion from parliamentarians. In the end, Rutte narrowly survived the vote. If a majority had voted against his leadership, his coalition government would have collapsed.
But the damage done to the Dutch government's credibility will not be easily repaired, and Rutte’s survival as premier may in fact bakfire on his country's standing internationally. What has been exposed this week is a senior member of his government irresponsiblt telling bare-faced lies in an attempt to slander Russia, poison international relations, and ratchet up already dangerous geopolitical tensions.
Zijlstra had claimed two years ago, in 2016, that he had personally witnessed Russian leader Vladimir Putin boasting about how he was creating a "greater Russia" which, the Dutch Foreign Minister claimed, would incorporate Ukraine, the Baltic states, Belarus and Kazakhstan. He claimed to have heard Putin making the remarks while present with others at the Russian leader’s dacha (summer house) back in 2006.
This week, Zijlstra finally admitted before parliament that he hadn’t in fact been present at the alleged gathering, which the Russsian government said all along was the case. He still maintains, somewhat ridiculously, that a confidant who was among those present at Putin’s dacha informed him of the alleged greater Russia plan. But how can we now trust the word of a self-confessed liar?
Zijlstra’s boss, Prime Minister Rutte, also sought to downplay the debacle, claiming that his foreign minister had made a big mistake – but that “lying was not a deadly sin”. If the lie leads to nuclear conflict however, a few people may dispute that (the rest of course will be dead.)
Rutte, a smug shite at the best of times, is in for a rude awakening if he thinks he can get away with such complacency again. His government has been caught telling a lie whose ramifications concern issues of war and peace in Europe, it will not easily be trusted.
Since the US and European-backed illegal coup in Ukraine in early 2014, geopolitical reality has been turned upside-down. American and European corporate media have peddled relentless anti-Russia propaganda accusing Moscow of aggression and expansionism in Europe.
This torrent of Russophobia spewed out by Washington, the Pentagon, NATO and the European Union has created the worst crisis in relations with Russia since the Cold War ended nearly three decades ago. There are real fears that the mounting crisis could escalate into an all-out war involving nuclear powers.