Geert Wilders: A Russia’s Friend?

Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician. He has led the Party for Freedom (PVV) since he established it in 2006. Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders is known for his dislike of Islam and the European Union. However, He was also the most Russia-friendly, a fact swiftly highlighted by Russian media in the wake of his shock win in the 2023 election. In 2016, Wilders portrayed Vladimir Putin as a “true patriot” and an ally. In 2018, Wilders was requested by the cover organization Russian Peace Foundation to travel to Russia.

Documents revealed by Ukrainian hackers in October 2023 purported to disclose endeavors by the Kremlin to develop connections with members of PVV. It uncovered various collaborations between Russians and PVV members, and most of this was confirmed through the Russian Peace Foundation, a pro-Kremlin propaganda organization.

On 24 February 2022, the day the Russian attack on Ukraine started, Wilders posted on Twitter “Do not let Dutch households pay the price for a war that is not ours.” Wilders and PVV supported an unsuccessful motion to declare Dutch neutrality in February 2022 and to terminate sanctions on Russia in June 2022. He connected sanctions against Russia with increasing inflation and the energy crisis.

According to the ultranationalist outlet Tsargrad Wilders is a strong supporter of Russia. Some websites and Telegram channels that support the Kremlin looked back at Wilders’ history with Russia. One channel found several photographs and tweets posted in 2018 around Wilders’ visit to Moscow, during which he met with several parliamentarians and officials. Among them was the leader of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, sanctioned by the US over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. 

The visit stirred up a lot of controversy in the Netherlands. It happened at a time when relations between Russia and the Netherlands were strained, especially following the annexation of Crimea. Additionally, it occurred during an international investigation into the involvement of Moscow-backed separatists in the tragic downing of flight MH17, which resulted in the loss of 196 Dutch lives.

An old tweet from Wilders was spreading on Russian platforms. It included a picture of a pin with the flags of Russia and the Netherlands, and Wilders wrote, “I wear this with pride.” In another post, Wilders is pictured standing in front of the Russian coat of arms and flag in the State Duma, with a caption that says, “Stop fearing Russia. It’s time for practical politics. Let’s have partnership instead of hostility!”

While avoiding Western media during the visit, Wilders gave Russian state outlet RT an interview in which he applauded President Vladimir Putin as a leader who stood up for “the Russian people” and was therefore “more favorable” than EU leaders. 

Moreover, Under Wilders’ supervision, the Freedom Party has consistently advanced a policy of appeasement toward Russia. In the annexation’s wake, his party claimed against the introduction of sanctions and in favor of bypassing “confrontation” with Putin. Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 appears to have done little to change this line of reflection.  

Wilders action raised eyebrows in May 2023, when he was one of three politicians to overlook a speech to the Dutch parliament by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Wilders asserted the visit distracted from the annual remembrance of World War II victims that same day.  

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