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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and President Volodymyr Zelensky sign a long-term security agreement between the Netherlands and Ukraine on March. 1, 2024. (President of Ukraine)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte signed a 10-year agreement on security cooperation between Ukraine and the Netherlands in Kharkiv, Zelensky announced on March 1.

"The document includes 2 billion euros in military aid from the Netherlands this year, as well as further defense assistance over the next ten years," Zelensky said.

"It also prioritizes the provision of air defense, artillery, sea, and long-range capabilities, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Ukraine's air force."

The Netherlands joins the U.K., Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, and Canada, which have signed similar deals to help Ukraine repel Russia's aggression based on a pledge made by the Group of Seven (G7) last July.

Rutte's visit to Kharkiv, which lies 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the border with Russia, was not announced in advance for security reasons. Russian forces target Kharkiv and the surrounding region on a daily basis.  

More than 20,000 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv since Feb. 24, 2022, according to Ukrainian government figures. During his visit to Kharkiv, Rutte saw buildings that had been destroyed by Russian attacks and "honored the memory of children killed by Russian aggression," Zelensky said.

Rutte also visited the city center and the regional administration building that was hit by a Russian strike exactly two years before. The attack on March 1, 2022, killed 44 people.

"My visit today made it all the more clear to me that Putin cannot be allowed to win this barbaric war," Rutte said on X. "We stand side by side with Ukraine, together with a broad, international coalition of like-minded countries."

Rutte is reportedly the leading contender to become the next NATO Secretary General when the mandate of Jens Stoltenberg ends on Oct. 1, after 10 years in the role.

Under Rutte, the Netherlands has taken a proactive role in supporting Ukraine, for example by spearheading the fighter jet coalition and pledging to deliver 24 F-16 jets to Ukraine.

Rutte told journalists on Feb. 26 that the Netherlands will provide 100 million euros ($108.5 million) in aid to support Czechia's plan to procure hundreds of thousands of ammunition rounds for Ukraine from outside the EU.

The Netherlands held an election in November 2023, which saw Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) come third after the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) and the Green Left-Labour alliance.

After 11 weeks of negotiations, talks to form a new coalition government stalled in early February. Until a new government is formed, Rutte remains the country's caretaker prime minister.

PVV leader Geert Wilders said on Feb. 24 that he is against the Netherlands signing the security cooperation with Ukraine, claiming that "an outgoing cabinet cannot conclude a ten-year agreement."

Days earlier, Wilders railed against Ukrainian refugees, saying on Feb. 19 that they are coming to the Netherlands for "free housing, free healthcare, and our jobs."

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