Letter to the Second Chamber of Parliament

this is a translation of "Brief aan de Tweede Kamer"


To the members of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs
Amsterdam, 24 July 2014
In light of the fact that the cabinet plans to launch a military mission to eastern Ukraine are being rushed through at great speed we would like to submit the following.
It strikes us that the Netherlands appears to be ready to exchange the dignified attitude of respect for the victims of the MH17 disaster for a more militant posture without much ado.
Without having been able to study the cabinet letter we take from media reports that 
  • A contingent of armed military and forensic police experts under Dutch command will be dispatched to the wreckage site in eastern Ukraine;
  • The interim government in Kiev will be asked to permit the presence of foreign military under a bilateral agreement;
  • The mission will be undertaken without a UN or OSCE mandate, so that the armed force will be present on the ground as a de facto ally of Kiev rather than a UN/OSCE force. 

We consider this a dangerous and ill-conceived operation, especially in light of the fact that the Kiev government’s campaign against armed groups in the east is not sparing its own, Russophone population and has already killed more than 300 civilians. In Lugansk alone a further 44 civilians perished in the two days following the disaster. Are we to ally ourselves with a regime that denies the ethnic complexity of Ukraine and includes fascist groups such as Right Sector and the Svoboda party?
Since the American government has simultaneously decided to send military advisors this week (see for sources and details our blog), the Netherlands might be drawn into the conflict directly.

In the judgment of O҂O the government should abandon this operation and instead use its (probably temporary) moral authority as the country of origin of the majority of victims of the fatal flight to press for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations on a permanent solution. The UN and/or the OSCE would seem to be the appropriate channels, also because Russia has a voice in both and without Moscow’s involvement no durable solution nor a restoration of democracy in Ukraine is to be expected.

In a period in which violence is spreading (the advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Israeli incursion into Gaza, and several conflict zones in North Africa), the last thing we need is a Dutch adventure in eastern Ukraine.

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