Investigation reveals Dutch govt. in secret Nord Stream talks with Russia

Follow the Money investigation shows that despite official freeze on diplomatic and trade relations following shooting down of Malaysian Flight 17airliner over Ukraine, unofficial negotiations have been continuing. (pictured: Russian Embassy in the Netherlands). Russian Embassy in the Netherlands/Facebook

The Dutch government resumed behind-the-scenes diplomatic negotiations with Russia in 2017 on the Nord Stream II pipeline project, the independent Follow the Money (FTM) web portal revealed on Monday.

In 2014, after pro-Russian separatists shot down a Malaysian airliner carrying mostly Dutch passengers, the government in The Hague froze diplomatic and trade relations with Russia. However, an investigation by FTM reveals, that this was a bluff. In reality, ties were quickly reinstated and tightened behind the scenes. According to FTM, the stakes involved Russian gas supplies.

The FTM web portal reports that the Dutch government failed to inform the lower house of the Dutch parliament about diplomatic trips to Moscow. The meetings took place within the framework of the Joint Working Group on Energy, which has the aim to promote sustainable exploitation, production, transmission and use of energy in the Barents Region. The meetings were attended by senior Dutch officials from the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Affairs.

Regarding questions concerning bilateral contacts with Russia, the Dutch Parliament received a reply from Minister Stefan Blok at the end of December 2019, but no mention was made about the official working group that met in Moscow a few weeks later, FTM wrote.

FTM points out that Central and Eastern Europe countries fear that Russia will bypass the gas networks in Ukraine and Poland when building gas pipelines, and that "these countries will become more susceptible to the whims of the Russians."

In addition, the countries fear that Russia will use its "pipeline policy" more frequently because of its strong position in the energy sector, and that it will also utilise energy supplies as a political weapon.