US ambassador criticises Denmark’s military budget, despite increase

The United States’ ambassador to Denmark wants politicians to allocate more money to defence than is currently earmarked.

US ambassador criticises Denmark’s military budget, despite increase
US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

Parliament this week decided to increase the national defence budget by 4.5 billion kroner (600 million euros) by 2024, but the move was described as “far from enough” by the US ambassador Carla Sands, newspaper Børsen reports.

The 4.5 billion kroner-figure incorporates an additional 1.5 billion kroner into already-planned defence budget increases, the newspaper writes.

That means that Denmark’s defence budget will, by 2023, constitute 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP, compared to 1.3 percent today.

Sands said the amount was not enough, noting that Denmark pledged in 2014 to work towards a level equivalent to 2 percent of GDP.

“A discussion is required amongst Danish politicians as to how they will reach the targets they themselves have set. How will we get there?”, the ambassador said to Børsen according to the newspaper’s report.

Minister of Defence Claus Hjort Frederiksen did not wish to be interviewed in response to the ambassador’s comments, but told Børsen in an email that the increased money spent on defence “is a good development which ought to please our allies”.

Denmark has desired to reach a similar level of defence spending as countries like Germany, according to the report.

That would give Copenhagen a response to pressure from US president Donald Trump, who has repeatedly voiced his view that Nato member countries should increase the proportion of GDP spent on defence.

Although Sands criticised Danish politicians, she praised the country’s soldiers as “brave and skilled”, Børsen writes. Their presence in areas of conflict “where few would engage” made Denmark a “formidable ally”, she said.

Sands, a former chiropractor, board chairperson and actress with no previous diplomatic experience, was appointed ambassador to Denmark by Trump in 2017.

READ ALSO: Trump picks new US ambassador to Denmark


Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes

Denmark's government on Friday decried two Russian aircraft violating Danish airspace and summoned   Moscow's ambassador over the incident.

Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes
Russian MiG fighter jets. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

The defence ministry in one NATO’s founding members said fighter jets had been scrambled to counter the incursion on Friday,  Ritzau news agency reported.

“Completely unacceptable that Russian planes violate Danish airspace, even twice in one day,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a post to Twitter.

Kofod added that the repeat violation made it look like a “deliberate action”.

“We are still examining the details, but I have already taken the initiative to summon the Russian ambassador for a talk at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs,” the foreign minister said.

The violations had occurred over the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, south of Sweden.

“It is very rare that we see this type of violation of Danish airspace, so two in the same day must be deemed to be serious,” Defence Minister Trine Bramsen told Ritzau.

According to the agency, Russia has repeatedly flown over Danish airspace and in August 2020, a Russian B52 bomber also flew over Bornholm.