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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Russian warship violates Danish waters

A Russian corvette twice violated Denmark's territorial waters in the Baltic Sea on Friday, the Danish armed forces said.

Russian warship violates Danish waters
The Russian vessel first crossed into the Danish waters north of the island of Christianso, south of Sweden, at 1230 am GMT.
“A few hours later, the same corvette crossed into Danish waters again, also north of Christianso,” the Danish military said in a statement.
“Following a call on civilian VHF radio from the Navy’s maritime operations unit, the Russian ship immediately left Danish territorial waters,” it added. The military said it had “nothing further to add”.
Denmark’s foreign ministry later said it had been in talks with the Russian ambassador, and noted that the incursion occurred after a Russian military spy plane violated its airspace in late March.
“Russia is again ignoring the international rule book by not respecting borders. It has been communicated in very clear terms to the Russian ambassador that this kind of action is completely unacceptable,” foreign
minister Jeppe Kofod said in a separate statement.

“A deeply irresponsible, gross and completely unacceptable Russian provocation in the middle of #fmdk,” Kofod added on Twitter, referring to the democracy festival, Folkemødet.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, as well as several members of her cabinet and opposition leaders are currently attending the four-day festival discussing climate, defence policy and other matters.
Denmark is a member of NATO and has sent both anti-tank launchers and an anti-ship missile system to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February.
Christianso is located some 300 kilometres (190 miles) from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.