Putin’s propagandists cheer Geert Wilders’ Dutch election win

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Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders is typically defined by his dislike of Islam and the European Union

But out of the main contenders in the Dutch parliamentary election, he was also the most Russia-friendly, a fact swiftly underscored by Russian media in the wake of his shock win. 

The ultranationalist outlet 4405" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Tsargrad on Thursday morning contrasted Wilders, whom it bluntly described as a “supporter of Russia,” with outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a “fanatical supporter of Ukraine.”

Several pro-Kremlin publications and so-called Z-channels on Telegram also went down memory lane, rehashing Wilders’ track record on Russia. 

One channel dug up a number of photographs and tweets published in 2018 around Wilders’ visit to Moscow, during which he met with several parliamentarians and officials. Among them was the head of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, sanctioned by the West over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. 

The visit was highly controversial in the Netherlands, coming at a low point in Russian-Dutch relations after the annexation and in the midst of an international investigation into the role of Moscow-backed separatists in the downing of flight MH17, which cost 196 Dutch lives. 

One old tweet posted by Wilders was circulating on Russian platforms on Thursday. It showed a photo of a pin of friendship with the Russian and Dutch flags. “I wear this with pride,” he wrote at the time. 

In another, Wilders is seen standing in front of the Russian coat of arms and flag in the State Duma, with an accompanying caption reading: “Stop the Russiaphobia. It’s time for Realpolitik. Partnership instead of enmity!”

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

Firebrand Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov on his Telegram channel on Thursday morning reposted a screenshot of a tweet by Viktor Orbán in which the Hungarian leader celebrated Wilders’ victory as a sign “the winds of change are here.” 

Under Wilders’ leadership, the Freedom Party (PVV) has consistently promoted a policy of appeasement toward Russia. 

In the annexation’s wake his party argued against the introduction of sanctions and in favor of avoiding “confrontation” with Putin. Moscow’s full-scale assault on Ukraine in February 2022 seems to have done little to change this line of thinking.  

Under Wilders’ leadership, the Freedom Party (PVV) has consistently promoted a policy of appeasement toward Russia | Robin Utrecht/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Wilders raised eyebrows in May this year, when he was one of three politicians to snub a visit to the Dutch parliament by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Wilders argued the visit distracted from the annual commemoration of World War II victims that same day. 

Although Wilders’ party’s election manifesto describes Russia as an “aggressor” and its invasion of Ukraine as “illegitimate,” there is no mention of sanctions or other punitive measures. 

Instead, it promises to cut “scarce” military and financial resources to Ukraine to bolster the Netherlands’ own national security. “Our own country comes first,” the manifesto reads. 

Responding to a comment by a Bild journalist on X, formerly Twitter, that “another NATO state has fallen to Russia,” Tsargrad cited a political analyst as saying that even under Wilders the Netherlands’ policy toward Moscow was unlikely to change.

“Because it’s not the Netherlands that decides on this but the EU,” the publication summarized him as saying. “So the Dutch election should [primarily] be considered as yet another symptom of disease afflicting Europe.” 

Neither the Kremlin nor Russia’s Foreign Ministry had commented on Wilders’ win at the time of publication.