Dutch PM to discuss defence of Ukraine with Brazil's Lula

French President Macron makes a state visit to the Netherlands
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he will lay out the need to defend Ukraine in the war with Russia on Tuesday when he meets Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been critical of arming the Ukrainians.

"We need to help Ukraine fight this fight," Rutte told reporters on Monday, the first day of his visit to Brazil.

Rutte said he will explain to Lula why the question of backing Ukraine is "existential" for the Netherlands, for Europe and beyond because the Russian invasion has put Western values at stake.

"If Putin would be successful in Ukraine, and I don't

think he will be, it won't end there. People are worried for their own safety, in Amsterdam, in Berlin, in Paris and Europe," he said.

Lula, who has tried to encourage countries who are not involved in the conflict to form a group to push for peace talks, has said supplying arms to Ukraine was encouraging the war. The U.S. government accused him of parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda.

The Dutch government is considering with its European partners donating F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

"We discussing intensely with Denmark, the UK, some other parties in Europe and also the U.S. on F-16s," Rutte said in Sao Paulo.

But agreement was first needed between all the partners, as they had done in the past before supplying Panzer howitzers and Leopard tanks to Ukraine, he said. "The debate is ongoing."

Rutte is on a three-day visit accompanied by a business delegation for talks focusing on trade and cooperation for sustainable agriculture and the energy transition, especially hydrogen.

(Reporting by Lais Morais; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)