A Dutch flag hangs at half-mast as a sign of respect for those killed in the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, July 19, 2014.
David van Dam / Courtesy Reuters

It was supposed to be a landmark year for Dutch-Russian relations. But in the fall of 2013, a government-sponsored celebration of the two countries’ centuries-long ties ended on an odd note. In November, Dutch King Willem-Alexander stopped by the Kremlin for a friendly visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the time, Russia was holding a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship and its crew on charges of piracy (later downgraded to hooliganism). And, in the Netherlands, gay-rights groups were protesting the visit in light of Russia’s strict laws against homosexual “propaganda.” The Guardian was not exaggerating when it described Netherlands-Russia Year 2013, as the celebration

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