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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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NATO

Could Denmark benefit from Swedish and Finnish Nato membership?

Turkey has dropped its objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, paving the way for the two Nordic nations to join the North Atlantic defence alliance. Could Denmark benefit?

Could Denmark benefit from Swedish and Finnish Nato membership?

Sweden and Finland appear closer to joining Nato after a major stumbling block appeared to be cleared on Wednesday.

Nato on Wednesday evening said that the foreign ministers of Turkey, Sweden and Finland had all signed a trilateral memorandum which addressed “Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns”. 

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Nato leaders would as a result now be able to issue a formal invitation to Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. 

Denmark stands to gain political weight and status within the defence alliance once Sweden and Finland are members, a Danish military analyst said.

“From a security politics point of view, this would give a close Nordic alliance within Nato,” Hans Peter Michaelsen, military analyst at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Military Studies, told news wire Ritzau.

Swedish and Finnish Nato membership could also benefit Denmark militarily, he said.

“Denmark, Sweden and Finland could now support each other militarily,” he said.

“We can complement each other with our different strengths. We can begin to look at distributing burdens internally between the countries. I’m thinking of areas such as the Baltic Sea region here,” he said.

Sweden has a strong navy which is attentive to the Baltic Sea, he noted.

“That means that Nato will command an area where Russia otherwise perhaps did not feel threatened,” he said.

“That will make the Russians consider their future strategy in the region,” he said.

Stoltenberg also cited the Baltic Sea region following the withdrawal by Turkey of its objections.

“This changes the entire balance of power in the Baltic Sea and Baltic Region,” Stoltenberg said according to news wire Ritzau.

With Sweden and Finland in the alliance along with Denmark and the Baltic countries, Nato countries will control all sea access to the Baltic Sea and thereby Russian ports in the region.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What is in Sweden’s deal with Turkey over Nato?

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