Danish prime minister decries ‘dark day for world peace’

Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen underlined on Thursday that a war was now taking place within Europe as she addressed media following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses media regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses media regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th 2022. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

“Today is a dark day for peace in the world. We are seeing a military attack on a peaceful, free and sovereign nation,” Frederiksen said.

“The attack is not just an attack on Ukraine. It is an attack on peace and stability. And it is an attack on an era which goes back to the Cold War. There is now war in Europe,” she said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on Thursday morning, has been met with condemnation buy many – mostly western – countries, including Denmark.

Frederiksen said that the Danish government expects the situation created by the Russian attack to last for some time.

“We are heading into uncertain times,” she said.

“We expect there to be a longer-lasting international crisis. Potentially with large costs to Danish society,” she said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Denmark could be impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

At the media briefing on Thursday, defence minister Morten Bødskov said there is not currently considered to be a threat to NATO, the military alliance of which Denmark is a member.

“It’s important for me to underline that we are not seeing any direct military threat against NATO. Nor are we seeing a direct military threat to Denmark,” Bødskov said.

“But Ukraine has been brutally assaulted. And the people of our eastern allies – not least in the Baltic countries – are worried. That is completely understandable,” he said.

The head of the Danish Armed Forces, Flemming Lentfer, said the military has increased its level of preparedness.

He also stated that Denmark has sent two fighter aircraft to Nato member country Poland.

Danish military presence in other Nato countries already includes four fighter jets in Lithuania, while 200 Danish troops will be posted to Estonia in March. The Nordic country also has four fighter aircraft stationed on its Baltic Sea island Bornholm.

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UPDATED: Denmark’s government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Denmark’s government has said it will support Ukraine’s bid for EU membership after the European Commission deemed the country’s candidacy viable.

UPDATED: Denmark's government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Ukraine’s bid to be part of the EU got a majority backing in Danish Parliament on Friday after the European Commission backed the bid.

“It is really, really important that Europe opens the door for Ukraine, so that we can get started to ensure that Ukraine can be ready for EU membership,” foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Aastrup told newswire Ritzau.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Twitter that Denmark was looking forward to continuing cooperation with Ukraine on reforms.

The possibility for Ukraine to become part of the EU is conditional on Ukraine implementing reforms – on rule of law, oligarchs, human rights and tackling corruption – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. She added that “good work has been done.”

Candidacy status is a significant step to joining the EU but the whole process can take years.

“When a candidate’s status is granted, it is not the same as Ukraine being ready to join the EU. There are a large number of criteria to be met and there are a large number of outstanding ones that Ukraine lacks. These are some of the things that are being addressed”, Michael Aastrup said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will attend a meeting in Brussels next week where the recommendation from the European Commission will be voted and signed off by the EU’s 27 member states. France, Germany and Italy have also already backed Ukraine’s bid but the decision has to be unanimous.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that status as a candidate for EU membership is vital to his country, while the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the question could be decisive in the war to defend Ukraine from invasion by Russia.

READ MORE: Number of Ukrainian refugees working in Denmark triples in one month