A Russian embassy employee was in the room Wednesday afternoon at a Root lecture on NATO at the Global Forum in The Hague. “You are personally attacking President Putin, so why simplify Russian interests and not look closely?” asked the Russian Rutte. At the table at Genk’s restaurant, Rutte said last Monday night that Putin was “total paranoia”. The Russian president had just given a hostile speech on Ukraine.
Rutte responded promptly on Wednesday afternoon by saying he thought it was a “legitimate question”. The Prime Minister replied: “I often met Vladimir Putin.” “We had a good personal relationship. Of course that changed after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. That changed completely after the downing of flight MH17.” According to Rutte, Putin is someone who “understands clear language”. “I don’t think he’s afraid of vulgar language. I think it’s the best way to deal with the Russian president. I will continue to do so.”
After the meeting, Rutte briefly looked at the remarkable question posed by the employee of the Russian Embassy. “It’s also great to report,” says the prime minister. This is how you work in a democracy. He is welcome.”
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