In yet another instance of a Western official speaking the quiet part out loud, the Netherlands’ defense minister issued some controversial remarks on Wednesday wherein she referred to supporting Ukraine as a “cheap” way to ensure Europe’s security.
“There are of course reasons to worry,” Dutch defense chief Kajsa Ollongren began at the Warsaw Security Forum when asked her view on if the West can keep up the level of support needed for the Ukrainians to drive back Russia. She went on to speak of the 20-month old conflict raging on Europe’s eastern doorstep in cost-effective terms.
Her answer started by emphasizing that NATO allies have actually been bolstering their support of late which “surprised Ukraine, which surely surprised (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and the Kremlin.”
“We also surprised ourselves I think that what we are capable of a lot, and we have proven that in the past year and a half, and the only thing we have to do is keep it up,” she said. That’s when she pivoted to talking about Europe’s overall safety as taking primacy and not just Ukraine’s.
She called developments in Washington – where Biden’s desire to get tens of billions more approved for Kiev in next year’s defense budget has been stymied in Congress – “worrying”, and that US lack of support would be a “substantial” negative development..
“We cannot pretend that we’ll just wait and see how the American elections are going,” she said, adding that European politicians have to engage in the dialogue with American colleagues and friends.
That’s she when she referenced the “very cheap way” to protect NATO…
Dutch minister of war Kajsa Ollongren: “It’s very much in our interest to support Ukraine. Because they are fighting this war. (…) It is a very cheap way to make sure that Russia with this regime is not a threat to the NATO alliance.” pic.twitter.com/VgNGnaQg5K
— Eric van de Beek (@beek38) October 5, 2023
“Because they have the same interest in a way of course, supporting Ukraine is a very cheap way to make sure that Russia with this regime is not a threat to the NATO alliance. And it’s vital to continue that support,” she said.
She had also emphasized “they are fighting this war, we [the Europeans] are not fighting it.”
Of course, at a moment that common Ukrainians are suffering, with their country as ground zero for a ratcheting Russia-NATO proxy war, it’s easy to see how they might logically interpret Ollongren’s words as in actuality suggesting Ukrainian lives are cheap.
The Dutch Defense Minister said supporting Ukraine is a “very cheap way” of containing Russia.—So people’s tears,losses,suffering and lives are a cheap way— pic.twitter.com/niRx8WvLKP
— Wolf (@Vuk02577707) October 5, 2023
A number of online commenters noted the Dutch defense chief’s smugness in delivering these lines, given it’s set against the tragic backdrop of many tens of thousands having died. The Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow has previously written that some US-NATO officials appear willing to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian” rather than pursue peace negotiations. Clearly Ollongren is in that camp.