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Why the possibility of US troops in Denmark is unprecedented

The presence of foreign military troops and hardware stationed on Danish soil would be a situation not previously seen in the Scandinavian country, including during the Cold War.

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, foreign minister Jeppe Kofod (L) and defence minister Morten Bødskov on February 10 briefed press about a possible future bilateral defence deal with the United States.
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, foreign minister Jeppe Kofod (L) and defence minister Morten Bødskov on February 10 briefed press about a possible future bilateral defence deal with the United States. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark has not previously allowed foreign troops to be stationed on its soil, although the country was occupied by Germany during World War II.

As such, allowing US troops to be based in Denmark – as Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen yesterday said could be allowed in a future bilateral defence deal – is without precedent in Danish history, according to professor Peter Viggo Jakobsen of the Royal Danish Defence College’s Institute of Strategy and War Studies.

The move could represent a change in Denmark’s position since the Nordic country joined Nato as a founding member in 1949 because it would see Denmark take on a role as a supporting host nation for troops on their way to missions in other countries.

“Denmark is, in the sense that Nato conceives deterrence, a country for amassing forces,” Jakobsen told news wire Ritzau.

A bilateral agreement between the two countries could see US troops able to conduct operations in other countries based out of Danish harbours or one of the country’s three military air bases.

“But the entire purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate to the Russians that we [Nato, ed.] can immediately reinforce the troops we already have standing in the Baltic countries and Poland,” Jakobsen said.

“So it would not make sense for the Russians to attack because we are able to respond immediately. This is about preventing war,” he said.

Frederiksen said at a briefing on Thursday that a potential bilateral defence agreement with the US is unrelated to the current situation between Ukraine and Russia.

But Jakobsen said it was clear that Russia would not invade anywhere if they could see an invasion would not work.

The bilateral defence agreement does have a downside, the military expert said.

“If things go wrong and the Russians want to start a larger war, Danish bases would naturally be a target for the Russians,” he said.

“They would have an interest in destroying things like air bases before American aircraft land there,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark boosts military preparedness amid Ukraine tensions

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POLITICS

Question marks remain about Søren Pape despite party support

The Danish Conservatives on Saturday expressed unanimous support for chairman Søren Pape Poulsen despite the very disappointing election result on November 1st.

Question marks remain about Søren Pape despite party support

The Danish Conservative party expressed unanimous support for chairman Søren Pape Poulsen on Saturday, despite a very disappointing election result on November 1st.

It seems that Pape has weathered the storm for the time being. That is the opinion of political commentator Hans Engell, “but whether he is the leading conservative candidate in four years can probably be questioned,” he says.

Engell points out that Pape and the Conservatives are currently in the process of negotiating with acting Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen about the possibility of entering into a broad coalition government that stretches across the Danish political spectrum, an idea that Pape categorically refused to consider during the election campaign.

After the election, however, he has opened up to the possibility of a broad government.

READ ALSO: Danish government: Rasmussen backs coalition with traditional rivals

“The Conservatives could theoretically be in a government in a month. It is clear that during that phase, the party always gives support to its leading figures,” Engell says. “But of course, this does not mean that the critics and those who wanted a more thorough analysis are completely silent.”

No obvious successor

Engell points out that there is currently no obvious successor to Pape. The leadership of the Conservatives gathered at Egelund Castle in North Zealand on Saturday to discuss the result of the general election.

When Pape announced his candidacy for Prime Minister on August 15th, support for the Conservatives increased significantly. Barely a week later, the party had the support of 16.5 percent of the voters in an opinion poll by the analysis institute Voxmeter.

However, there followed a series of personal stories surrounding Pape’s private life and political judgment, and in the end, the Conservatives ended up with just 5.5 percent of the vote in the election.

Engell points out that the issues that the Conservatives focused on did not manage to set the tone of the election campaign. This applies to, among other things, the mink case and tax breaks.

“Many of the topics they ran on did not affect the electorate at all,” Engell pointed out.

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