Halbe Zijlstra, the Netherlands’ Foreign Minister, caused quite a stir a couple of years ago with claims about having secretly overheard Russian President Vladimir Putin talking about creating a “greater Russia.” He caused an even bigger stir Monday, admitting he made the whole thing up.
Zijlstra had claimed during election campaigns that he had been hiding in Vladimir Putin’s dacha and overheard Putin saying he wanted to take over Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Kazakhstan to create Greater Russia.
This was a far-fetched claim at the time, and even moreso now that Zijlistra admits he was never at the dacha in the first place. He admits it was a “stupid” thing to make up and that he regrets having done so.
Still, the foreign minister insists it was conceivably true, because he had heard somebody claim to have overheard Putin saying something to that effect, which appears to have been the origin of his own fanciful story.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte said the lie was a “big mistake,” but that he believes the foreign minister remains “credible” and will not be asked to resign.