Denmark is likely to further increase its military spending in the Arctic after unveiling a $ 250 million investment in surveillance capabilities in Greenland and the Faroe Islands to counter Russia’s military build-up in the region.
Defense Minister Trine Bramsen told the Financial Times that last week’s announcement of the purchase of two long-endurance surveillance drones for use in Greenland and the re-establishment of a radar station from the Cold War era in the Faroe Islands was “a step.”
She added: “If the security situation continues to develop as we see it now, we will have further steps in the future in terms of capabilities. We will now have a much better picture of what is happening, especially at sea. ”
The vast Arctic region has become of increasing interest to powers such as Russia, China and the United States as they examine its potentially rich resources and strategic importance. Russia focused on inflate its military presence in its Arctic territory, while the United States has expressed interest in buy Greenland – an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark – under former President Donald Trump. The Faroe Islands are also an autonomous part of Denmark.
Norway is reopening a submarine base built inside cliffs in its far north, although a large military exercise involving US, British and other NATO troops this month has been called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Danish political parties on the left and right last week agreed that the government should invest 1.5 billion Danish kroner ($ 250 million) to strengthen surveillance and communications from its arctic territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands as well as annual operating costs of 300 million kroner.
Bramsen said Denmark, which has around 300 troops deployed in the Arctic, has a “special responsibility” for the defense of the region. The DKr750m surveillance drones and the DKr390m Faroe Islands radar station came in response to NATO requests.
“We see the Russian army getting stronger and having more activities in the Arctic. That is why it is important to have more capacity in the Arctic. It is not about escalating conflicts. This is the risk that we see in the future if we don’t have the capacity, if we don’t see what’s going on, ”she added.
The Nordic countries have increased their military spending and have focused on the Arctic since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. But they say that thanks to Moscow’s participation in the Arctic Council – an intergovernmental body of the eight Arctic states – relations with Russia have been cordial.
Some Nordic diplomats were alarmed by US interest and a 2019 speech by then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he lambasted “aggressive»Behavior of Russia and China in the Arctic. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden Told the FT in the United States had a “sad and dangerous” approach to the region.
Bramsen said Denmark had “very close cooperation” with the United States and the two countries “had the same views on the Arctic and the threats.” She dismissed complaints from some in Greenland that Denmark had neglected the island, only waking up when Trump declared his interest.
The minister admitted that Copenhagen had not been able to verify media reports on possible Russian activity in the region between the Faroe Islands and the UK’s Shetland Islands last year because it had failed not the necessary capacities. She said the Faroe Islands radar station would help Denmark find out what was going on.
She added that the two drones designed to patrol Greenland aimed to “cover the most important blind spots”.