Dutch minister quits after lying about Putin meeting

Dutch Leader Survives Confidence Vote After Minister Admits Lying About Putin Meeting

Zijlstra quit after he admitted lying about overhearing Russia's President Vladimir Putin. This source appeared to be former Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer, who wrote in an email to de Volkskrant on Tuesday that Zijlstra misinterpreted his words on Putin.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte earlier said that despite his "unwise" decision, Zijlstra would keep his office, as the content of the story remained uncontested.

The rare motion was brought by Mr Rutte's arch-foe, far-right MP Geert Wilders, who slammed the mounting scandal over foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra as "unacceptable".

An emotional Halbe Zijlstra announced his resignation at the start of a debate at which he was expected to be grilled by opposition legislators about the lie.

Zijlstra has claimed for almost four years that he heard Putin make fiery statements about wanting conquer territory in the Ukraine and the Baltics with the desire to expand Russia's footprint in the region back when he was working for Shell in 2006.

"He said this included Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states, and, well, Kazakhstan would be "nice to have", Zijstra is heard saying in a video recording of his 2016 speech.

Zijlstra had only been in post for four months, and the dramatic events came just hours before he was due to leave on an official trip to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"The discussion did take place and someone who was there told me what President Putin said about greater Russian Federation".

According to the paper, Zijlstra's "fake story made him vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians who knew what really happened", the paper writes.

The "Greater Russia" scandal has finished Zijlstra's four month-term as the foreign minister of the Netherlands, as he assumed the post only back in October 2017. Not only would it invalidate any criticism of Russian Federation, it would also damage the campaign against fake news.

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