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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Seven members of Danish embassy expelled by Russia

Moscow said Thursday that seven members of Denmark's embassy in Russia have been declared persona non grata and had two weeks to leave Russia.

Seven members of Danish embassy expelled by Russia

Russia’s foreign ministry said it summoned Danish Ambassador Carsten Søndergaard to inform him of the retaliatory measures following the expulsion of 15 Russian diplomats from Denmark and the country’s military aid to Kyiv.

“The kingdom’s openly anti-Russian policies cause serious damage to bilateral ties,” the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement.

Russia reserves the right “to take additional steps in response to Copenhagen’s unfriendly actions,” the statement said, adding that a diplomat of the Danish mission was also refused a visa as part of the retaliatory measures.

The Danish foreign ministry said that Russia was expelling seven members of its diplomatic mission including four diplomats.

In a statement to AFP, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod called the move “a totally unjustified and deeply problematic decision”.

“Russia no longer wants real dialogue and diplomacy,” he said, noting that Denmark had in fact expelled Russian intelligence agents and not diplomats.

Since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24th, the West has expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and Russia retaliated in tit-for-tat moves.

READ ALSO: Denmark accuses Russian spy plane of violating airspace