Danish Arctic military boost welcomed by US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday welcomed Denmark's plans to boost its military presence in Greenland and the North Atlantic.

Danish Arctic military boost welcomed by US Secretary of State
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod at a press conference on Monday. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“We share a commitment to Arctic security, we very much welcome Denmark’s recent decision to invest more… in North Atlantic and Arctic defence, in coordination with the governments of Greenland and the Faroe Islands,” Blinken told a press conference alongside his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod.

The US top diplomat’s remarks came during a visit to Denmark two days ahead of an upcoming Arctic forum in Iceland.

In February, Copenhagen announced a 1.5 billion Danish kroner ($245-million, 200-million-euro) military investment, including surveillance drones over the Danish autonomous territory Greenland and a radar station on the Faroe Islands.

The plan, which pointed to Russia’s increased activity in the Arctic, aims to cover up blind spots and improve Denmark’s surveillance capabilities in Greenland and the North Atlantic.

The military investment will contribute to knowing “who’s doing what, where, at any given time… and we very much appreciate the role that Denmark is playing in helping to do that,” Blinken said. 

With his stop in Denmark, the Secretary of State began a tour focused on the Arctic, a relatively new issue in the US rivalry with China and the first opportunity to test strained relations with Russia before a potential summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

The Arctic Council, whose scope does not include defence issues, is to meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik — gathering the foreign ministers of the eight countries bordering the Arctic, including Russia’s Sergei Lavrov. 

Just two days ahead of the meeting, Lavrov on Monday warned Western countries against staking claims in the Arctic, designating it as part of Russia’s zone of influence.

“It has been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land,” Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow.

After losing interest in the area since the end of the Cold War, major powers have begun eyeing the region again.

Disputes over the Artic come amid renewed tensions between the West and Russia, particularly since the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

READ ALSO: Blinken’s visit to Denmark shows Greenland back in US focus

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Russia announces no New Year’s greetings for France, US, Germany

US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not be receiving New Year's greetings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Russia announces no New Year's greetings for France, US, Germany

As the world gears up to ring in the New Year this weekend, Putin sent congratulatory messages to the leaders of Kremlin-friendly countries including Turkey, Syria, Venezuela and China.

But Putin will not wish a happy New Year to the leaders of the United States, France and Germany, countries that have piled unprecedented sanctions on Moscow over Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

“We currently have no contact with them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“And the president will not congratulate them given the unfriendly actions that they are taking on a continuous basis,” he added.

Putin shocked the world by sending troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

While Kyiv’s Western allies refused to send troops to Ukraine, they have been supplying the ex-Soviet country with weapons in a show of support that has seen Moscow suffer humiliating setbacks on the battlefield.