January 29, 2023

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The Netherlands says it will send Patriot aid to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte He said on Tuesday that his country plans to “join” efforts by the United States and Germany to train and arm Ukraine with advanced Patriot defense systems.

Rutte signaled Holland’s intentions at the start of a meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden. The Dutch defense ministry said Rutte’s announcement came after Ukraine asked the Netherlands to provide a “Patriot capability”.

“We have the intention to join what you’re doing with Germany on Project Patriot,” Root told Biden. “I think it’s important that we join in on that.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address that the Netherlands had agreed to send a Patriot battery to Ukraine. “So, now there are three guaranteed batteries. But this is only the beginning. We are working on new solutions to strengthen our air defense,” Zelensky said.

Rutte, who said he also spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz On Tuesday about potential help, he was more vague about compliance in his public comments. He told Dutch broadcaster NOS that his government was in talks about exactly what it could contribute. According to the Ministry of Defense, the Dutch army has four Patriot systems, one of which is not in service.

“The idea is not just the training, but also the equipment,” Rutte told NOS. He added that the Dutch military is now reviewing “what exactly we have, and how can we make sure it works well with the American and German systems”.

He added during a forum at Georgetown University that the decision was an acknowledgment that “we all have to do more” with Ukraine’s entry critical stage in the war.

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Rutte spoke of possible assistance as Ukrainian forces arrive at Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma to begin training in the operation and maintenance of the Patriot missile defense system. The Patriot is the most advanced surface-to-air missile system ever given to Ukraine by the West to help fend off Russian air attacks.

Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the training will continue for several months, and 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers will be trained on how to use the Patriot missile system.

Biden also used Tuesday’s meeting to discuss US efforts to further restrict China’s access to advanced semiconductors through export restrictions.

The administration has been trying to get the Netherlands on track since the US Commerce Department announced in October new export controls targeting China. The restrictions aim to limit China’s access to advanced computing chips, the development and maintenance of supercomputers, and the manufacture of advanced semiconductors.

“We’re working together on how to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open, and quite frankly, the challenges facing China,” Biden said at the start of the meeting.

Administration officials saw the export restrictions as necessary because China could use semiconductors to create advanced military systems including weapons of mass destruction; committing human rights violations; and improve the speed and accuracy of military decision-making, planning and logistics.

Netherlands-based technology giant ASML is a major manufacturer of lithographic machines that designs and produces semiconductors. China is one of ASML’s largest clients.

CEO Peter Wenink downplayed the impact of US export control regulations shortly after management unveiled them last fall. ASML said last year that it expected the company’s sales in 2022 to be around €21 billion.

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The United States is also in talks with Japan about tougher export restrictions to limit the sale of semiconductor manufacturing technology to China. Rutte’s visit comes after Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week for talks.

The United States and Japan said, in a joint statement after the meeting, that the two sides agreed to “hone our shared advantage on economic security, including protecting and enhancing important and emerging technologies.”

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wen called on Japan and the Netherlands to resist US pressure.

“We hope relevant countries will do the right thing and work together to uphold the multilateral trading system and safeguard the stability of global industry and supply chains,” he said. “This will also protect their long-term interests.”

Biden has hailed the Netherlands as one of the United States’ “strongest allies”, and it has proven to be “very, very strong” in its support of Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February. The Netherlands has allocated about $2.7 billion (2.5 billion euros) to support Ukraine this year. The money will be spent on military equipment, humanitarian and diplomatic efforts.

For the Netherlands to provide Patriot assistance to Ukraine – whether it be weapons systems, missiles or training – would be a major step for the NATO ally.

The training of Ukrainian forces now underway in Oklahoma is set to focus, in part, on how to maintain the battery that the United States will send to Ukraine once the training is complete. Each system contains multiple components, including a phased array radar, control station, computers, and generators, and usually requires about 90 soldiers to operate and maintain, but only three soldiers are needed to actually launch it, according to the Army.

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Some of the ongoing maintenance support operations, once Patriot is on the battlefield, will be done remotely, Ryder said.

For his part, the Dutch Prime Minister praised Biden for leading the international effort to support Ukraine.

“I am convinced that history will judge in 2022 if the United States had not stepped up like they did things would have been very different,” Rutte said.

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Corder reports from The Hague, Netherlands. Associated Press writers Lynn Perry, Tara Cobb, and Colleen Long contributed reporting.