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Blinken welcomes Danish Arctic military boost

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Blinken (R - seen with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod L) is on a tour focused on the Arctic which, Russia has warned the West, is part of its sphere of influence./AFP
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May 18, 2021 - 07:13 AM

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

“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.

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