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Dutch FM Admits Lying About Hearing Putin Speak of 'Greater Russia' in 2006

© Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov / Go to the mediabankVladimir Putin's annual news conference
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Halbe Zijlstra used to claim that he had heard President Vladimir Putin dreaming about a “greater Russia,” but on Monday he admitted that he lied.

During his election campaign two years ago, Dutch Foreign Minister said that back in 2006 he had been at Putin’s dacha where he all of a sudden found out about the Russian President’s crafty scheme to expand the country, by including some of its neighbors.

"I was tucked away back in the room, but I could clearly hear Putin's answer to the question about what he considered greater Russia. He said this included Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states, and, well, Kazakhstan would be 'nice to have'," Zijlstra said in his speech before a gathering of People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy in 2016 – a speech which was recorded on video.

It came as a surprise when on February 12 he acknowledged he had never been at the meeting with President Putin in the first place, although said that he had heard of his plans secondhand.

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"The discussion did take place and someone who was there told me what President Putin said about greater Russia," Zijlstra said in a statement after his lie was exposed in an interview with the Dutch daily De Volkskrant.

He also said that he was protecting the source.

“The manner in which I wanted to protect my source and underscore my message about Russia was not sensible, that is crystal clear,” Zijlstra said.

Zijlstra’s revelation comes ahead of a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, scheduled on February 14.

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