Dutch Foreign Minister Steps Down After Lying About Meeting With Putin
Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra said for years that, when he was working for oil company Shell in 2006, he attended a meeting in Russia with President Vladimir Putin. Putin, Zijlstra explained on several occasions, said he aimed to restore “Greater Russia” in its full glory. Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states were all part of this “Greater Russia.”
On Monday, we found out that Zijlstra wasn’t in any meetings with Putin back in 2006.
He admitted this to Dutch daily the Volkskrant after having repeated the story for years, including at his political party’s congress back in 2016.
According to Zijlstra, however, the story was basically true; Putin did say these things, it’s just that he didn’t personally hear Putin say it. He got the story from a close friend of his who did attend the meeting and later told him about it.
That’s when another minor problem arose: the source — Shell’s Jeroen van der Veer — says that Zijlstra “misinterpreted” Putin’s words. Yes, Van der Veer says, Putin talked about “Greater Russia,” but this was nothing more than an explanation of Russia’s history — not an announcement of future military conquests, which is what Zijlstra has said.