United States ‘plans to invest’ in Greenland military base

The United States wants to invest in its base at Thule in Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark.

Thule Air Base in Greenland in October 2019
Thule Air Base in Greenland in October 2019. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish newspaper Berlingske obtained a censored report from the United States that details plans to invest billions of dollars in the Arctic, including US-run Thule Air Base in Greenland.

A statement from the US Air Force says the money will go to shoring up aging infrastructure, but the US Embassy declined to elaborate further. 

The plans come as a surprise to both Danish parliament and the Greenlandic government, Berlingske reports. 

“We don’t want to be talked about. We want to take part when we’re involved. This is our country so we want to know when something is happening,” Pipaluk Lynge Rasmussen, a member of the foreign and security committee in the Grrenlandic parliament and member of governing party IA, told Berlingske.

As per the trilateral agreement between Denmark, Greenland and the US, the United States is required to “consult and inform” the other nations before significant changes to their military operations in Greenland, according to Danish newswire Ritzau. Notably, the United States doesn’t need Denmark and Greenland to sign off. 

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Why Denmark and Canada are about to share a border

A half-century-long peaceful dispute over an uninhabited island has ended after an agreement was reached between Denmark, Greenland and Canada.

Why Denmark and Canada are about to share a border

The 50-year spat over Hans Island has been resolved after the countries agreed to a partition of the island and the Labrador Sea, which separates Greenland and Canada.

The deal means that the Danish kingdom – of which Greenland is an autonomous territory – will be extended by an area the size of Jutland, Funen and Zealand combined.

Hans Island is a barren island around 1.3 square kilometres in size. Located between Greenland and Canada, it is symbolically significant for both countries.

Talks have been ongoing since a special focus group was appointed in 2018 in an effort to find a solution to the longstanding territorial dispute.

The agreement means a border will run from the north to the south of the island along a ridge, with one half being part of the Danish kingdom and the other Canadian territory.

Should Greenland ever become fully independent from Denmark, the Hans Island area would become part of Greenland, which is itself the world’s largest island.

In addition to partitioning Hans Island, the agreement also fixes a maritime border stretching a distance of 3,882 kilometres from the Lincoln Sea to the Labrador Sea. This border will be the world’s longest sea border and the most northerly part of the Schengen area.

One half of the area separated by the new sea border will also become part of Denmark’s territory.

The agreement was scheduled to be signed by the three countries at a ceremony on Tuesday. It must also be approved by the Danish parliament. This is expected to be a formality.

The dispute over the island has been ongoing since the 1970s but has always been peaceful.

In the 2000s, Denmark asserted its claims to the island on several occasions by raising the Danish flag and leaving a bottle of schnapps. Canada responded by leaving its own flag and a bottle of whisky.

The dispute has not affected the Inuit population of the area, who use the island for navigation purposes. It is known by the Thule people as Tartapaluk, meaning “kidney shaped”, while the name Hans comes from a Greenlandic hunter and expedition leader.