Danish PM rebuts Russian ambassador over Bornholm comments

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Tuesday that Russia’s ambassador should “not get involved” in Danish discussions with the United States that could see soldiers placed on the island of Bornholm.

Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen visited a military barracks on Bornholm
Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen visited a military barracks on Bornholm on April 7th 2022. Photo: Pelle Rink/Ritzau Scanpix

During a visit to Bornholm on Thursday, Frederiksen said she would not accept Russian advice against an agreement that could mean American soldiers stationed on Denmark’s Baltic Sea island.

A future 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.

In February, prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Frederiksen said that Denmark was ready to allow US military troops on its soil as part of a new bilateral defence agreement with the United States.

Denmark and the United States would begin negotiations over a new bilateral defence agreement which could mean the presence of American soldiers in Denmark, Frederiksen said at the time.

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

“I can give a very short answer to this. The Russian ambassador should not get involved in what happens on Bornholm,” Frederiksen said on Thursday.

The Russian ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin, said in February that an agreement existed between Denmark and Russia preventing American troops from being on Bornholm.

Barbin referred to an agreement made between Denmark and the Soviet Union in 1946, when Red Army troops left Bornholm following the liberation of Denmark at the end of World War II.

Frederiksen stressed in her comments that Denmark is a sovereign country.

“I want to be very clear. Russia has no admission to get involved in Danish defence policy – including what happens on Bornholm,” she said.

The Danish PM rejected suggestions that allowing American troops on Bornholm could be seen as an escalation of tensions between the West and Russia related to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“No, it is not. We want a closer relationship with the Americans,” Frederiksen said.

“If we want a closer relationship with the Americans, that is partly to boost Denmark’s security and our own defence capabilities, but also to strengthen (relations) across the Atlantic,” she said.

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Biden thanks Denmark for sending weapons to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has thanked Denmark for a recent donation of artillery to Ukraine.

Biden thanks Denmark for sending weapons to Ukraine

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Biden expressed thanks for “all members of the coalition” helping Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

“Denmark and Estonia are sending howitzers,” Biden continued.

The comments by the US President came during a briefing in which he announced that the United States is to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Denmark’s government last week decided to donate each of the Danish military’s 19 French-produce Caesar howitzers to Kyiv.

The donation means that Denmark has given away a component of its 1st Brigade, which it was building up in accordance with an agreement with Nato, according to news wire Ritzau.

But a replacement could soon be received by the Danish armed forces, Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said last week during a visit to the Ramstein military base in Germany.

“We are very, very close to planning replacement purchases for this. And I hope we can announce soon,” the minister said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday that Germany will send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Earlier on Wednesday, Biden spoke by telephone to government leaders from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.