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Danish defence analyst: 'You shouldn't be worried about war'

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
Danish defence analyst: 'You shouldn't be worried about war'
Denmark’s population advised to stock up for 'crisis situation'. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Residents in Denmark have been starting to stockpile household supplies after authorities issued a list of items people should have in the event of a future crisis. The Local spoke to Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Associate Professor at Royal Danish Defence College, to understand what's going on.


The Danish Emergency Management Service (Beredsskabstyrelsen, DEMA) has issued advice for the general public to stock up on enough supplies to last them three days, should crisis hit. This could include natural events like extreme weather or human acts like cyber attacks or sabotage.

At a briefing on Saturday, Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said that Denmark is not under immediate threat of conventional military attack but the risk of a “hybrid attack”, which could, for example disrupt electricity supplies, is genuine.

So how worried should people living in Denmark be?

"Should we be worried that Denmark will be attacked like Ukraine has been? No, there is no reason to worry," Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Defence College told The Local.

"This public message sends a signal of resolve and resilience to the Russians: Don't start attacking us, it's pointless because even if you disable our electrical grid for a short time, there wont be a societal breakdown," he said.

READ MORE: Denmark’s population advised to stock up for 'crisis situation'

"First and foremost the reason for this message is because of the events in Ukraine and the fact all our Nordic neighbours either have recommendations in place, or have issued recommendations recently.  We have to face the possibility of Russian attacks on our electrical grids, so we need to be prepared for a situation where an electrical blackout might happen by a deliberate act," Jakobsen emphasised.


How real or close is that possibility? 

"It is a worst case scenario and something we've looked at before and something the authorities are all well aware of and trying to do something to prevent. And if it should happen, they would do what they can to reestablish power as soon as possible," Jakobsen told The Local.

"You can extrapolate from the guidelines an indication of the worst case scenario estimate, which is a three-day period without something like electricity or water, so even if the worst case scenario happens, it will be restored within three days.

"But the probability of a complete blackout across Denmark is very remote and not something for people to worry about. As is communicated consistently by Danish authorities and by me, the risk of a direct war between Russia and NATO is extremely remote and would only come to pass in a World War Three scenario and there is nothing to indicate that is around the corner.

"This public message is about creating more resilient systems to demonstrate to Russia that it would be pointless to launch these kinds of attacks and a waste of Russian resources. If it isn't prevented, then systems will be restored quickly.

"You shouldn't be worried about war and you shouldn't be worried about system breakdowns. It's about citizens looking after themselves for a short amount of time, to give authorities time to look after the worst-affected areas so the system is not overwhelmed by the public, where everyone wants help at the same time," Jakobsen said.

READ ALSO: CHECKLIST: What supplies should you stock up on according to Danish authorities? 


The recommendations from Danish authorities also mention being prepared for natural events like extreme weather.

"Because of climate change we're seeing a situation where weather is more unpredictable and we're likely to see more floods and worse storms than we used to. These used to be called 100-year events, now they can be more regular," Jakobsen said.

"We saw last winter how people outside of Aarhus got stuck on the highway during a snowstorm and there was some frustration that the authorities couldn't help them straight away. When I grew up in the 1970s we had a shovel in the back of the car and extra jackets, if something like that happened.

"So this message is telling people to use their common sense and if a snow storm is expected, the first thought is, is it necessary for me to drive and if so, do I have the supplies in case I get stuck? It's basically telling people to be able to help themselves for a short time," Jakobsen explained to The Local.


When was last time this type of public message was sent out?

"Back in the 1960s when they distributed a leaflet about how Danes should prepare in the event of war. There's been a long debate in Denmark about distributing another leaflet and if it would worry Danes. So it's about striking a balance. Danish authorities came under pressure to give their official say on what is necessary, especially because Sweden and Norway had done the same," Jakobsen said.

"Sweden already had recommendations in place because people live in remote areas.They are aware that if they're in the middle of nowhere, they have to look after themselves in the event of something like a power cut. But in Denmark it's flat and heavily populated, we have taken it for granted that the state and authorities can always come to our rescue quickly."

Are people acting on the advice?

"My son works in a local supermarket and he said that already yesterday, all canned food had been ripped off the shelves, so already people have taken action.

"I don't think there's any evidence of panic but there is an effect in the shops and a sense people are reacting to the recommendations given. But the Head of the Danish Emergency Management Services is saying not to rush out and buy all of it at once, do it gradually."


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Abraham 2024/06/18 18:05
If someone is able to use what he/she stocks for crisis time, then there is no crisis. (an African saying)

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