In an interview with the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, according to the NOS (Dutch Public Broadcasting), he said the following about the relations with the USA, in light of the recent elections in the USA and the coming elections in The Netherlands.

In English (translation mine)

Relations with the USA

Rutte sees it as his job to maintain a good relation with the USA, where Trump will be inaugurated as its next president the following week, because that is in the best interest of The Netherlands.

That Trump has stated that it might never be clear who shot down flight MH17 and that he has exonerated Russia beforehand, makes it a difficult situation. "We have to see how the relations between the USA and Russia develop. But resolving the MH-17 files is crucial to me and the rest of the cabinet."

Dutch original

Relatie met de VS

Rutte ziet het als zijn taak de relatie met de VS, waar Trump komende week aantreedt als president, goed te houden omdat dat in het belang van Nederland is.

Dat Trump heeft gezegd dat nooit duidelijk zal worden wie verantwoordelijk is voor het neerhalen van de MH17, en dat hij Rusland bij voorbaat vrijpleit, maakt de situatie wel lastiger. "We moeten zien hoe de relatie tussen de VS en Rusland zich gaat ontwikkelen. Maar de afwikkeling van het MH17-dossier is voor mij en het kabinet cruciaal."

Here, Rutte states as fact that Trump has exonerated Russia in the downing of MH-17. But has Trump indeed made statements to this effect?

  • Something is incorrectly quoted/interpreted here. The statement "That Trump has stated that it might never be clear who shot down flight MH17 and that he has exonerated Russia beforehand, makes it a difficult situation" comes before Ruttes literal quote. Rutte did not state [that] as a fact, the NOS reporters wrote it (as far as this source/report is concerned. Maybe Rutte said it as well, but I don't know that - it would need another source).
    – user22865
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 12:14
  • @JanDoggen true, it's not presented as a direct quote from Rutte, but as a presumed summary of his statements. I haven't been able to locate a full transcript or similar source (yet).
    – SQB
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 12:28
  • @Oddthinking I agree with your edit. Would "pre-emptively" work there?
    – SQB
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


That depends on your definition of "exonerated" (or the original Dutch term), but I wouldn't say so.

CNN quotes Trump as saying:

"They say it wasn't them," Trump said. "It may have been their weapon, but they didn't use it, they didn't fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you'll probably never know for sure."
Trump later said the culprit was "probably" Russia and pro-Russian fighters, but he said the U.S. needs to focus on its own problems right now and not "get involved" in overseas conflicts, even one as "horrible" as this.
"I think it is horrible," Trump said of the incident. "But they're saying it wasn't them. The other side says it is them. And we're going to go through that arguing for probably for 50 years and nobody is ever going to know. Probably was Russia."

CNN followed up on this, and Trump said:

"That's a horrible thing that happened," he said. "It's disgusting and disgraceful but Putin and Russia say they didn't do it, the other side said they did, no one really knows who did it, probably Putin knows who did it. Possibly it was Russia but they are totally denying it."

So basically what he is saying is that it may have been or probably was Russia, but we will never know, so we should focus on US issues instead.

  • 25
    This incident is not unsolvable. Portraying it as some mystery that can't be solved - despite the evidence gathered by The Netherlands and others - practically means to exonerate an involved party.
    – lejonet
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 22:20
  • 19
    @lejonet That's a matter of opinion. To you, it seems he's exonerating an involved party; to others, it may well seem like he's not condemning an involved party without sufficient evidence to seal the deal conclusively.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 22:46
  • 21
    @ArtOfCode At this point, the JIT report has been out since Sept. 28, 2016, 3.5 months as of today. Trump should have taken note of it already. Charitably, Trump is spreading doubt where there is none. All signs (except Russia's and JSC Concern Almaz-Antey's) point to the 53rd AARB based in Kursk having supplied the Buk that shot the MH-17 down. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 1:09
  • 3
    I would say Trump's point is even simpler: Literally just that they're disagreeing. Russia claims they didn't do it, so they won't pay indemnities. Even if it goes to international court it could take many years to resolve.
    – Avery
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 1:30
  • 7
    @Szymon No, but in a spoken interview, people often use grammatical structures that aren't correct. You can view the relevant parts of the interview yourself to get a better impression. To me it's pretty clear that he meant "It probably was Russia".
    – tim
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 11:21

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