Denmark recalls frigate from Africa over Ukraine crisis

Denmark on Friday announced it was calling home a military frigate on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Guinea, over ongoing tensions with Russia over Ukraine.

The Danish frigate Esbern Snare
The Danish frigate Esbern Snare pictures in 2018. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The frigate Esbern Snare, which has been patrolling the waters off the coast of West Africa since October 2021, will be added to the forces made available by Copenhagen to NATO in Europe, the defence minister announced.

“We have received a request from NATO to reinforce our readiness and our contribution to deterrence. We have received a request to strengthen the readiness with one of our frigates,” Morten Bødskov told reporters after a meeting in parliament.

The minister declined to say where the frigate, which should arrive in Europe in early March, would be positioned.

The vessel, which has a crew of 100, is a so-called multi-role frigate launched in 2005, able to engage in marine, submarine and anti-aircraft combat.

Last week, Denmark began boosting its military preparedness in response to Russia’s “unacceptable military pressure” on Ukraine, placing a mobile battalion of 700-800 soldiers on alert under NATO command in the east of the country.

Copenhagen has deployed four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania and announced in January it would send a frigate with 160 crew to reinforce NATO patrols in the Baltic Sea.

READ ALSO: Why the possibility of US troops in Denmark is unprecedented

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Poll suggests Danes ready to scrap EU opt-out in referendum

A new poll indicates a majority of Danes is in favour of scrapping the country’s EU defence opt-out in an upcoming referendum.

Poll suggests Danes ready to scrap EU opt-out in referendum

The poll, conducted by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR, shows 38 percent of voters in favour of revoking the opt-out, compared with 27 percent who want to retain it.

28 percent said they do not know how they will vote, meaning there is still plenty of potential for both a “yes” and “no” outcome in the June 1st vote.

An earlier poll, conducted in March, put the two sides closer, with 38 percent of eligible voters then saying they would vote ‘yes’ to scrapping the opt-out, with 31 percent saying they would vote ‘no’ and 31 percent saying they didn’t know.

The government announced in March a June 1st referendum in which citizens will decide whether to overturn Denmark’s opt-out from EU defence policy. The referendum was called following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Denmark’s opt-out – retsforbehold in Danish – is one of four EU special arrangements negotiated by the Scandinavian country, and has seen it abstain from participation in EU military operations and from providing support or supplies to EU-led defence efforts.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark have four EU ‘opt-outs’ and what do they mean?

In April, the wording of the question on voting ballots for the referendum was changed, following objections from politicians opposed to scrapping the opt-out.

According to a breakdown of the new poll, younger voters and women are the most undecided groups. 20 percent of men said they were unsure how to vote compared to 38 percent of women.

Among 18-34 year-olds, 39 percent were unsure how they would vote compared to 22 percent of voters over the age of 56 who have yet to decide how to cast their votes.