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Russia Blasts Netherlands Over U.S. Tanks, Ruling On Crimean Treasures

A vase displayed at a Netherlands exhibition, 'Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea'
A vase displayed at a Netherlands exhibition, 'Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea'

Russia has criticized the Netherlands for allowing the United States to begin stocking tanks there, and for a court ruling that ordered Crimean treasures on loan to a Dutch museum to be returned to Ukraine rather than Russia.

"It looks like the Dutch authorities have started to get a taste for deliberately destroying relations with Russia," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on December 21.

Zakharova said the court order that Crimean gold artifacts should be returned to Ukraine instead of Russia -- which seized the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 --- was unjust. She said it would end what she called the ambitions of The Hague, home to the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, to become the world's legal capital.

Russia is appealing the ruling.

Relations between Russia and the Netherlands have been strained since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, with 198 Dutch passengers among the 298 people killed.

An international investigation determined that the plane was shot down by a missile from a Buk system that was brought into Ukraine from Russia and fired from territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders called Zakharova's comments "hard to understand" and said of the arrival of U.S. tanks, which began last week: "It is not an aggressive but a defensive act," according to the ANP news agency.

Based on reporting by Reuters, TASS, and Interfax

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