Denmark accuses Russian spy plane of violating airspace

The Russian ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin, has been summoned for a talk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, after a Russian plane violated Danish airspace on Friday, according to Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.

Danish F16 fighter jets demonstrate the interception of a Belgian air force transport plane as they fly over Denmark, January 14th, 2020
Danish F16 fighter jets demonstrate the interception of a Belgian air force transport plane as they fly over Denmark, January 14th, 2020 as part of NATO drills to deter Russian planes from entering allied airspace. Photo: Johanna Geron/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

On Friday, a Russian AN-30 propeller plane was flying east of Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic, before it headed towards Swedish territory.

“It is completely unacceptable and extremely worrying in the current situation”, Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Danish F16 fighter jets countered the incursion and the plane then left Danish airspace. 

“We are in a special situation across the whole of Europe. That is why, of course, it is really serious when we see Russia violating our airspace. Therefore we have called in the Ambassador so that we can make that view clear to Russia,” Kofod reiterated to newswire Ritzau.

The plane was also briefly in Swedish airspace. It is unknown whether this was a deliberate violation or not.

Russian ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin has attended several talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the war in Ukraine.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, Moscow has threatened retaliation against any countries that participate in the war, which Russia characterises as a “special military operation”, on the side of Ukraine.

Danish fighter aircraft currently patrol the skies over Baltic Sea island Bornholm daily in what has been described as a precaution against potential Russian encroachment on Danish airspace in the area.

Denmark is a member of NATO, unlike Sweden where a debate is taking place over whether it should abandon its non-aligned status and join the alliance.

Questioned by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, the Swedish defence minister said there was no proof that the breach was linked to current discussions on Stockholm eventually joining NATO.

Russia has already signalled that Stockholm and Helsinki, which is also contemplating membership, should consider the consequences of such a move on bilateral relations and Europe’s overall security architecture.


Member comments

  1. It is incidents like this that forces neutral countries to consider joining NATO even my own country of Ireland is talking about joining the alliance and we see Sweden and Finland feel threatened by Russia.

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Denmark in talks with Israel to replace howitzers donated to Ukraine

After pledging all 19 of its French-made Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, Denmark is in talks with Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems for new mobile artillery to plug a "critical gap".

Denmark in talks with Israel to replace howitzers donated to Ukraine

The defence ministry said late Thursday that negotiations were on “with the manufacturer Elbit Systems for the delivery of ATMOS artillery pieces and PULS rocket launcher systems as soon as possible”.

The equipment could be delivered this year, the government said.

“The rocket launchers complement the new artillery systems,” the ministry said.

Denmark had ordered 15 mobile long-range howitzers from French company Nexter in 2017, and four more in 2019.

But deliveries have been delayed and only a few have arrived. All of them have been pledged to Ukraine.

The system can carry 36 155 mm shells and reach targets at distances of up to 40 kilometres (24 miles). ATMOS can fire six shots per minute and can be mounted on most off-road 8X8 trucks.

The next acquisitions are “important for Denmark’s defence and for Denmark to be able to meet its NATO commitments,” Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said.

“The donation to Ukraine leaves a critical capability gap in defence,” he said.

According to Danish media, Nexter advised Denmark against changing suppliers, saying it could provide new artillery.

“Caesar has proven itself on the battlefield in Ukraine, Danish soldiers can use them and the parts are compatible with Danish military IT systems,” a spokesman for the group said.

The primary reason for the defence ministry’s choice of Elbit is that it can deliver the hardware much sooner that its competitor, media Altinget reports.

But the decision to purchase from the Israeli company could prove a controversial one, given that several international banks and pension funds — including some in Denmark — refuse to invest in the company on ethical grounds related to its supply of surveillance and other equipment for use in the West Bank, Altinget writes.