(Adds details, background)
AMSTERDAM, April 9 The Netherlands on Wednesday
postponed a four-day trade mission to Russia planned for next
month because of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and increased
tensions in eastern Ukraine.
The May 13-16 mission had intended to focus on energy and
would have brought together high level government officials and
corporate executives from both countries.
The Dutch have been looking to expand economic ties with
Russia, a big export market where the Netherlands is already a
"(The mission) has been postponed. The cabinet made the
decision today, based on recent developments in Ukraine,
particularly in the east of the country," the foreign ministry
said in a statement.
It set no new date for the trip.
"The European Union is reviewing its ties with Russia,"
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said. "A successful
mission under the current circumstances is not possible."
The EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on a group of
Russian officials after Moscow's annexation of Crimea and has
threatened to expand the sanctions if the crisis escalates.
NATO says Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on
Ukraine's eastern border, though on Wednesday Moscow denied
they posed any threat to the country.
The crisis, the worst between Moscow and the West since the
end of the Cold War, has prompted calls for the EU to reduce its
reliance on Russian gas and oil, though that would inflict pain
on European consumers, including in the Netherlands.
For the Dutch, long-term cooperation with Russia's Gazprom
would secure gas flows as its own natural gas reserves dwindle.
The country is expected to become a net importer of gas by 2025.
In 2013, around 18 billion euros worth of energy was
purchased from Russia, more than half of it crude oil.
(Reporting By Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsch.; Editing by