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MILITARY

Defence minister would welcome Nato troops in Danish port city

Denmark’s Minister of Defence Morten Bødskov said on Friday he wants to increase the viability of west coast port Esbjerg for use by military alliance Nato, including troops from the United States.

Danish Minister of Defence Morten Bødskov in Esbjerg
Danish Minister of Defence Morten Bødskov in Esbjerg on Friday May 20th. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Bødskov visited West Jutland city Esbjerg on Friday as part of considerations over a potential extension of the city’s port, the Ministry of Justice said.

The port city, which also played host to this week’s green energy meetings, has been flagged as the site of a new mustering point for Nato and especially United States military forces, according to a press release from the Ministry of Defence. 

“Russia’s terrible attack on Ukraine makes it very clear that Denmark must live up to expectations that we can act as a host country for allies who want to go through Denmark,” Bødskov said in the statement.

The ministry said that the United States in particular has shown interest in making more use of Esbjerg harbour.

Such use would be part of operations in which the city’s port would be used to transport military personnel and hardware to the Baltic Sea region including the Baltic countries.

Esbjerg Harbour has been used by the American military on a number of previous occasions in relation to exercises, while hardware and personnel have previously travelled through the city.

“Esbjerg Harbour has an attractive location in relation to supporting our Nato allies – particularly the United States – with the deployment of things like hardware in the Baltic Sea region,” he said.

“It’s a good opportunity for Denmark to provide support to countries that send reinforcements to maintain security for all of us,” he said.

The exact plans for the harbour – and their cost – are currently unconfirmed.

Preliminary work at the location will include environmental approvals, which must first be prepared. The Defence Ministry did not give clear detail as to what this process entails.

An extension of the harbour is expected to be complete by the end of 2023, however.

READ ALSO: Denmark begins largest military deployment in 23 years

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MILITARY

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.

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