Denmark Wants to Prioritize Arctic Defense and Put the Baltic Sea Second

Troels Lund Poulsen og Høgni Hoydal i Tórshavn, Færøyene
Denmark's Acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen (Left) and the Faroe Islands' Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Kingdom of Denmark is a commonwealth consisting of the countries Denmark, the Faroe Islands, and Greenland. (Photo: the Danish Ministry of Defense)

"First comes the Arctic and the Kingdom of Denmark, then the Baltic Sea and Denmark's immediate areas," says Denmark's Acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen (Left) to a Danish newspaper about the upcoming defense settlement.

In an interview with the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's Acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen states that the Faroe Islands and Greenland are highly prioritized areas when it comes to the use of defense funds. 

"First comes the Arctic and the Kingdom of Denmark, then the Baltic Sea and Denmark's immediate areas," says Poulsen to the newspaper ahead of negotiations of a new defense settlement. 

"The High North deserves attention. If we are to maintain the Arctic as a low tension area, Denmark must commit to a higher degree," adds Poulsen.

Adjusting the course 

Prioritizing defense in the Arctic entails adjusting the course of the government's defense policy. 

Minister of Defense at the time, Morten Bødskov (Social Democrats), stated last year that the Baltic Sea was central in regard to how the money is to be allocated in the defense settlement, writes the Greenlandic newspaper Semitsiaq AG.

In reference to Jyllands-Posten, Sermitsiaq writes that the prioritization surprises the Conservative People's Party and the party's spokesperson on defense Rasmus Jarlov, among others. They believe that the most urgent task lies in Denmark, the Baltic Sea, and the immediate area.

The US Department of Defense's northernmost installation, Thule Air Base (now Pituffik Space Base) is located on the northwest coast of Greenland. The installation plays a key role in the US military's ability to detect and provide early warnings of ballistic missile attacks. (Photo: NASA)

Will strengthen the cooperation

The defense settlement will apply to the period 2024-2029 and negotiations are scheduled to be completed before the summer.

High North News has previously reported that Greenland's self-government has received a written guarantee of its involvement in the preparations for this defense settlement (Article in Norwegian only). The island is central in the Danish government's new Arctic defense initiative.

"The security policy development suggests closer cooperation within the Kingdom. With this agreement, we provide the frames for the inclusion of Naalakkersuisut [the Greenlandic self-government, journ.note] in the preparations for the next defense settlement when it comes to Greenland and the Arctic. I am looking forward to the cooperation," said former Danish Minister of Defense Morten Bødskov in a press release.

The Danish government recently also announced that cooperation with the Faroe Islands is to be strengthened in the upcoming defense settlement.

"I want a close dialogue with the North Atlantic governments, especially in regard to the upcoming defense agreement. This also applies to the members of the North Atlantic Folketing," says Acting Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen in a press release.

Furthermore, it is revealed that Denmark and the Faroe Islands have recently discussed the upcoming early-warning radar on the Faroe Islands.

In June of 2022, Denmark and the Faroe Islands agreed on the framework for the installment of an early-warning radar on the archipelago. The radar will surveil the airspace between Iceland, Norway, and the UK, and is expected to have a range of 3-400 km. This will strengthen the Armed Forces' surveillance of the North Atlantic.

"The large extent of the Arctic and the North Atlantic requires close security cooperation with the Faroe Islands and Greenland. The Faroese initiative to re-establish an early-warning radar is a significant contribution to our shared security," says the acting defense minister. 

Arctic initiative

The radar station in the Faroe Islands is part of the "Arctic Capacity Package" from 2021 in which DKK 1,6 billion is to be spent in the Arctic by the Danish Armed Forces.

In recent years, there has been a major defense and security policy investment in the Arctic from the Danish side. The initiative is taking place as great powers are showing an increased interest in the region, including Greenland.

"In recent times, we see a new security policy dynamic gaining ground in the Arctic. There is a growing interest in the region from many sides. It is therefore crucial that the kingdom follows a proactive approach in regard to the new situation," the Danish MFA previously commented in an e-mail to HNN.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.