Denmark heightens its military presence in the Baltics

Denmark is also ready to send extra help as soon as possible to the Baltic countries if needed to defend themselves. [EPA-EFE/Mads Claus Rasmussen]

Amid ongoing talks between NATO and Russia, Denmark has decided to increase its military presence in the Baltics as a show of support against Russia’s aggressive behaviour.

After consultations with the country’s Foreign Policy Board, the Danish government agreed on 10 January to send naval frigate Peter Willemoes with 160 soldiers, four F-16 fighters, and 70 men to the Baltic region.

Arriving in January and operating under NATO’s command, the fighters will be deployed in Lithuania, while the frigate will be used for patrolling. Both the frigate and the fighters will remain in the area for at least three months.

“This sends a strong signal that Denmark is taking co-responsibility for the Alliance’s collective security. We, together with NATO, are ready for a constructive dialogue with Russia so that we can find possible diplomatic solutions, but we must take our precautions,” Danish Foreign Minister  Jeppe Kofod said in the defence ministry’s press release.

The defence ministry has previously described the Baltic region as Denmark’s “own backyard” and one that poses one of the “biggest challenges” to the country’s security. Denmark has deployed some 200 soldiers in Estonia as part of NATO’s advanced defence.

In the ERR News interview, Estonian Defence Minister Kalle Laanet welcomed the quick outcome of negotiations commenced in December. “This is an extremely strong deterrent message to Russia, which shows that we are united. [..] If Russia’s main goal is to divide allies, what Denmark has done with its decisions today shows that, in reality, there is a trend towards strengthening the allies,” said Laanet.

The defence minister also revealed there are ongoing discussions to strengthen the resources of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltic states and Poland.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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