The Netherlands has issued an apology to Russia over the arrest and detention of a Russian diplomat by police at The Hague.

Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said on Wednesday that an investigation established that the arrest of Dmitry Borodin late on Saturday was a breach of the Vienna Convention that regulates diplomatic relations between nations, including diplomatic immunity.

For the breach, "the state of the Netherlands offers the Russian Federation its apologies," said Timmermans in a statement.

He also said that he "understands" the action of police officers who arrested Borodin - a statement unlikely to appease Russian demands for action against officers involved.

He added that the two countries "remain in talks" about the situation.

'The most gross breach'

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called Borodin's detention at a police station for several hours on Saturday night "the most gross breach of the Vienna Convention", and demanded an apology.

Dutch police have declined to comment on the case, but Dutch media reports have cited police documents alleging that Borodin was detained after police found him drunk and barely able to stand after neighbours said he was mistreating his two young children.

The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday accused Dutch police of raiding Borodin's apartment in The Hague and beating him up before taking him to a police station for hours of questioning on the accusations.

Ties between Russia and the Netherlands have deteriorated sharply since Russian investigators last week charged 30 crew members of a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, with piracy over a protest against Arctic oil drilling.

The Netherlands responded by launching legal action to free the activists, who face up to 15 years in jail.

Source: Agencies