MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands’ minister of foreign trade and development cooperation, was appointed as interim foreign minister after Halbe Zijlstra had resigned after admitting that he lied about hearing Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking about plans for regional expansion, De Telegraaf newspaper reported.
Reports of other Dutch media suggest that the country’s ambassador to China, Ed Kronenburg, might become the next head of the country’s Foreign Ministry.
On Monday, De Volkskrant newspaper published an interview with Zijlstra, in which he admitted that he had lied about attending a meeting of businessmen with the Russian president in 2006 and hearing Putin calling the Baltic states, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine parts of “Greater Russia.” Zijlstra said in the interview that he had heard Putin’s remarks from a source who had actually participated in the meeting.
The Russian embassy in Amsterdam said in a statement obtained by Sputnik on Tuesday that Zijlstra’s behavior was an internal affair of the Netherlands. Moscow strongly rejects foreign attempts to attach any “great-power ambitions” to Russia, the embassy added.