Tags: Denmark | defenses | Russia

Denmark Close to Record Defense Upgrade as Russian Threat Grows

Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 06:48 PM

Danish lawmakers are close to agreeing on the country’s biggest air defense upgrade on record as one of the U.S.’s most stalwart military allies sizes up the threat posed by Russia.

“There’s no other way but to fly out and face Russian jets whenever they get close to Danish airspace,” Ole Haekkerup, the defense speaker for the ruling Social Democrat Party, said in a phone interview. “Turning the other cheek would only encourage Vladimir Putin to pursue his strategy further.”

The parliament in Copenhagen is in the final stages of passing a bill worth more than $4 billion to replace a group of F-16s now more than 30 years old. Denmark deployed fighter jets to intercept unidentified foreign planes 38 times this year through August, with the biggest rise in activity occurring in the Baltic Sea area, according to the Danish Air Force. That compares with 42 incidents for all of 2013.

Denmark is the latest Nordic country to step up its military preparedness as relations between Russia’s president and his counterparts in Europe and the U.S. deteriorate. Finland and Sweden, both non-NATO members, last month agreed to closer ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a move that will make it easier for the alliance’s troops to use their territories. Finland also put its fighter jets on alert to intercept Russian planes after their airspace was repeatedly violated.

NATO Ally

Though Denmark was due to renew its air defenses since before Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, Putin’s acts of military brinkmanship “show we’re right to buy new planes,” Karsten Nonbo, the Liberal Party chairman of parliament’s Defense Committee, said by phone. “We need a capable Danish air force that can patrol our airspace, help monitor the Baltics and to join missions further afield.”

Denmark, a NATO ally, emerged last week as one of nine countries to join the U.S. in a core coalition to fight the threat posed by Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria. Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, now NATO secretary general, also backed the 2003 war against Iraq, a move that created sharp divisions among lawmakers in Copenhagen. Now, a majority in Denmark’s legislature supports an historic defense spending bill to meet the growing geopolitical threats brewing in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

“We’re bound to see more airspace incidents in the Baltic Sea,” Johannes Nordby, a naval commander and analyst at the Danish Defense Academy, said in a phone interview. Still, he says an outright conflict with any NATO member is unlikely because “Putin is only putting on a show and doesn’t intend to use force.”

Russian Might

In recent years, displays of Russian might around the Nordic region include amphibious assault drills in the Baltic See close to Kaliningrad. In 2013, Russian bombers targeted Stockholm as part of a military exercise.

Like Denmark, Finland is also looking into replacing its fleet of fighter jets, which will reach the end of its lifespan in about 10 to 15 years. Sweden placed an order for 60 Saab JAS39 jets after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March and plans to spend 5.5 billion kronor ($850 million) more on defenses each year by 2023.

“The fact Sweden and Finland are approaching NATO shows Russia’s policy is backfiring,” Haekkerup said. “Putin wants to show how big and powerful he is, but what he achieves is other nations running away from Russia.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Levring in Copenhagen at plevring1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jonas Bergman at jbergman@bloomberg.net; Tasneem Hanfi Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net Tasneem Hanfi Brogger

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Danish lawmakers are close to agreeing on the country's biggest air defense upgrade on record as one of the U.S.'s most stalwart military allies sizes up the threat posed by Russia."There's no other way but to fly out and face Russian jets whenever they get close to Danish...
Denmark, defenses, Russia
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2014-48-07
Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 06:48 PM
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