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Netherlands’ Rutte Signs Security Deal in Ukraine, Promising Artillery Funding

At the signing of a security agreement with Ukraine on Friday in the northern city of Kharkiv, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that his country will contribute to the cost of supplying 800,000 artillery rounds to deter Russian soldiers.

In barely 40 km (26 miles) from the Russian border, Rutte surprised everyone by meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kharkiv. In the last two months, Rutte has signed a 10-year security deal with Ukraine, making him the eighth leader from the West to do so.

He stated at a press conference that the 800,000 artillery rounds would come in a matter of weeks and that the Netherlands would support the Czech Republic’s plan to buy them.

As Ukrainian soldiers attempt to repel Russian forces who are once more on the attack, Ukraine is severely short on artillery shells.

The Czech Republic said last month it had sourced 500,000 rounds of 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm rounds from third countries, which could be delivered to Ukraine in weeks if funding was secured.

The shells would plug a big hole in Ukraine’s stockpiles with a vital package of U.S. military assistance stuck in Congress facing months of Republican opposition.

Rutte said the Netherlands would donate 150 million euros ($162 million) to the Czech initiative, taking the total raised so far to 250 million euros.

The security agreement he signed with Ukraine included 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in military aid from the Netherlands this year, as well as other defence assistance over the next 10 years, Zelenskiy said.

The visit to Kharkiv was a rare one by a senior Western politician as the city is regularly attacked by Russian air strikes and is much closer to the Russian border than Kyiv.

The two leaders visited an underground classroom established to allow schoolchildren to attend classes in person, safe from missile strikes.

Rutte praised the courage and determination of the children and teachers as “a true beacon of hope that inspires Ukrainians to keep fighting and allies to keep supporting Ukraine”.

“The task facing Ukrainian allies is clear – do whatever you can to provide what is needed, [for] as long as it takes,” he said.

Zelenskiy described Rutte’s visit as “symbolic” in a “city that has survived a lot”.

“Here in Kharkiv, it’s 100% obvious that Russia is waging a criminal war, its objective is only destruction.”

In a statement on Telegram, Zelenskiy said that more than 20,000 buildings – schools, universities, churches, kindergartens and residential houses – had been destroyed in Kharkiv in the last two years.

Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark and Britain have all signed bilateral security deals over the past two months that are meant to tide Ukraine over until it can reach its aim of joining the Western military alliance, NATO.

 

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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