Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with scientists, representing the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Novosibirsk, Russia February 8, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra admitted on Monday he had lied about hearing Russian President Vladimir Putin make comments about plans for a “greater Russia”, unleashing a storm of criticism.
“I told an untruth, it was unacceptable,” he told reporters. Zijlstra, who is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in two days’ time, said he had been “stupid” and regretted his behaviour.
While election campaigning two years ago, Zijlstra said that in 2006 he had been at Putin’s dacha when he heard the Kremlin leader speak of plans for a “greater Russia” which would include some of Russia’s neighbours.
“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,” Zijlstra told a gathering in 2016 of his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, which heads the new …