Two years of war in Ukraine: a look back on the Netherlands’ aid efforts

Two years of war in Ukraine: a look back on the Netherlands’ aid efforts

For two years now Ukraine has been defending itself every day against Russian aggression. The Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine, for as long as it takes. This article presents an overview of the Netherlands’ main objectives and the actions it has taken in support of Ukraine.

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Wall of Remembrance in the center of Kyiv, February 2024

The Netherlands continues to support Ukraine

On 24 February 2022 Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. This represented a major escalation of Russia’s occupation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Over the past two years Russia has devastated Ukrainian villages and cities – and destroyed the lives of many Ukrainians. Every day, Ukrainians continue to fight for their lives and their freedom. In the areas of the country held by Russia, millions of Ukrainians are suffering under the cruelty of occupation.

At the same time, Ukraine is fighting for the freedom and security of the whole European continent. A Russian victory in Ukraine will not mean an end to the danger. This is another reason why the Netherlands supports Ukraine. The Netherlands needs to continue to shoulder its responsibility, and together with other countries, it must do its utmost to support Ukraine. There is no alternative. If Ukraine loses the war, the cost for the rest of Europe will be many times higher.

Dutch aid for Ukraine

The Netherlands supports Ukraine in a number of ways:

  • Military support: such as equipment and training for Ukrainian soldiers.
  • Justice for Ukraine: working to ensure that war crimes do not go unpunished and that people who have suffered damage, loss or injury in the war receive compensation.
  • Sanctions against Russia: making it harder for Russia to finance the war.
  • Reconstruction: support to repair damage where it is most needed: water mains, roads, hospitals and the electrical grid.
  • Humanitarian aid: helping international, Dutch and Ukrainian organisations to provide emergency goods, ensure the availability of drinking water and water filters, medicine and food, and to protect and assist civilian victims.
  • Other support: The Netherlands is also helping Ukraine by providing support in areas like healthcare, psychosocial care for victims, protection from cyberattacks and agriculture.

All these types of support are interconnected. For example, if Ukraine is not safe, reconstruction is impossible and refugees will not be able to return to the country. Lasting peace is only possible if war crimes are punished and victims compensated.

Military support

The Netherlands supports Ukrainian troops with weapons, training, equipment and other necessary supplies. In total the Netherlands has given Ukraine over €2.63 billion in military support. Another €2 billion has been set aside for 2024. Read more about military support for Ukraine (in Dutch).

Justice for Ukraine

Ukraine is currently investigating more than 100,000 war crimes  that have occurred in the country. These include the destruction of homes and hospitals, murder, rape and the abduction of children – and the number continues to rise. The Netherlands also wants those responsible for these crimes to be put on trial.

  • So far, the Netherlands has sent four expert forensic missions through the International Criminal Court to Ukraine to investigate war crimes.
  • The International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine in The Hague is conducting an investigation, with the goal of prosecuting those responsible. The Dutch government is also in favour of setting up a tribunal devoted to the crime of aggression, which would be based in The Hague.
  • The Netherlands offers training and legal support for Ukrainian public prosecutors and judges because most of the war crimes registered will be tried by Ukraine itself.
  • A Register of Damage, which is based in The Hague, will record all war damage claims by Ukrainian civilians, companies and government authorities. Besides this register, an organisation that can ensure that registered claims by Russian will be honoured must still be set up. Through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) the Netherlands supports and funds investigations into the tens of thousands of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia.

Recovery and reconstruction

Ukraine can only keep fighting as long as its economy continues to function: healthcare personnel, police officers and teachers need to be paid, and roads and power grids must be repaired.

  • To keep the Ukrainian economy afloat the Netherlands provides budget support through the international financial institutions and the European Union.
  • The Netherlands supports the private sector’s contribution to Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery, particularly in areas where the Netherlands has knowledge and expertise: agriculture, water and healthcare. It also offers export credit insurance to cover the risks of doing business in Ukraine.
  • To ensure that Ukrainians are not left out in the cold, the Netherlands is also providing equipment and parts for the Ukrainian energy network.
  • Through various organisations the Netherlands is helping to clear landmines in Ukraine. It is currently the world’s most heavily mined country.

Sanctions against Russia

Together with the other member states of the EU, the Netherlands has adopted 13 packages of sanctions against Russia. The purpose of these sanctions is to make it increasingly difficult for Russia to sustain the war, and to put additional pressure on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

The reception of Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands

Around six million Ukrainians are living outside their homeland as refugees. Another four million are refugees in their own country. Since the start of the war the Netherlands has taken in over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Read more about the reception of refugees from Ukraine.

What next?

The future of the Ukrainian people and our own future are closely linked, and this is why the Netherlands continues to stand by Ukraine, together with the other countries of the EU. On 1 February 2024, all EU countries reached an agreement about a multi-year support package totalling €50 billion for Ukraine, for the 2024-2027 period. The government has also set aside over €2 billion for 2024 to cover additional support for Ukraine.

Security agreement with Ukraine

The Netherlands and Ukraine are to sign a security agreement covering the next ten years. The agreement signals the Dutch government’s commitment to provide enduring support to Ukraine in the areas of security, reconstruction and justice. The agreement means that the Netherlands will help Ukraine defend itself against Russia and achieve further integration into the EU and NATO.

Conference on justice for Ukraine

On 2 April 2024, the Netherlands, Ukraine and the European Commission will co-host the international conference ‘Restoring Justice for Ukraine’ at the World Forum in The Hague. The aim is to combat impunity and compensate victims. Read more about the conference here.

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EU editor