Netherlands says it will send Patriot assistance to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte He said on Tuesday that his country plans to “join” US and German efforts to train and equip Ukraine with advanced Patriot defense systems.

Rutte indicated the Netherlands’ intentions at the start of a White House meeting with President Joe Biden. Rutte’s announcement came after Ukraine asked the Netherlands to provide a “Patriot capability,” the Dutch Defense Ministry said.

“We intend to join what you are doing with Germany in the Patriot project,” Rutte told Biden. “I think it’s important that we join.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly speech that the Netherlands had agreed to send a Patriot battery to Ukraine. “So, now there are three guaranteed batteries. But this is only the beginning. We are working on new solutions to strengthen our air defense,” said Zelensky.

Rutte said he had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz On Tuesday, he was more vague about the commitment in his public comments about the potential aid. He told Dutch broadcaster NOS that his government was in talks about exactly what it could contribute. According to the Ministry of Defence, the Dutch military has four Patriot systems, one of which is not in service.

“Imagination is not only training, but also a tool,” Rutte told NOS. He said the Dutch military is now “exactly what we have, how we can make sure it works well with the American and German systems.”

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During a forum at Georgetown University, he said the decision was a recognition that “we all need to do more” as Ukraine enters a critical phase in the war.

Rutte spoke of the potential assistance as Ukrainian troops arrived at the Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma to begin training to operate and maintain the Patriot missile defense system. The Patriot is the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has provided to Ukraine to repel Russian airstrikes.

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the training would last several months and train 90 to 100 Ukrainian troops on how to use the Patriot missile system.

Biden used Tuesday’s meeting to discuss US efforts to further limit China’s access to advanced semiconductors through export restrictions.

The administration has been trying to get the Netherlands on the same page since the US Commerce Department announced new export controls aimed at China in October. The sanctions are intended to limit China’s ability to access advanced computing chips, develop and operate supercomputers, and manufacture advanced semiconductors.

“We’re working together on how to keep an open and free Indo-Pacific and clearly address China’s challenges,” Biden said at the start of the meeting.

Administration officials reasoned that the export restrictions were necessary because China could use semiconductors to create advanced military systems, including weapons of mass destruction; violation of human rights; and improve the speed and accuracy of its military decision-making, planning and execution.

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Netherlands-based tech giant ASML is a leading manufacturer of lithography machines that design and produce semiconductors. China is one of ASML’s biggest customers.

CEO Peter Wennink downplayed the impact of U.S. export control rules soon after the administration unveiled them last fall. ASML said last year that company-wide sales for 2022 were expected to be around 21 billion euros.

The US is negotiating with Japan on tougher export restrictions to limit sales of semiconductor manufacturing technology to China. Rutte’s visit comes after Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Last week for talks.

The US and Japan, in a joint statement after the meeting, said both sides agreed to “sharpen our shared edge in economic security, including the protection and promotion of critical and emerging technologies.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin last week called on Japan and the Netherlands to resist US pressure.

“We hope that relevant countries will do the right thing and work together to uphold the multilateral trade regime and safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains,” he said. “It also helps protect their own long-term interests.”

Biden praised the Netherlands as one of the United States’ “strongest” allies and has proven “very, very steadfast” in its support for Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February. The Netherlands has given almost $2.7 billion (2.5 billion euros) in support to Ukraine this year. Money is spent on military equipment, humanitarian and diplomatic efforts.

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The Netherlands’ provision of Patriot aid to Ukraine – be it weapons systems, missiles or training – is a major move for the NATO ally.

The training of Ukrainian forces now underway in Oklahoma is, in part, focused on how to operate a battery that the US will send to Ukraine after the training is complete. Each system has multiple components, including a phased array radar, control center, computers and generators, and typically requires about 90 soldiers to operate and maintain, although only three soldiers are needed to fire it, according to the Army.

Ryder said maintenance support once underway on the Patriot battlefield will be done remotely.

The Dutch prime minister, for his part, praised Biden for leading the international effort to support Ukraine.

“I am convinced that history will judge in 2022 if the United States does not step up as you did,” Rutte said.


Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands. Associated Press writers Lynn Berry, Tara Kopp and Colleen Long contributed reporting.


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