SHARE
COPY LINK

RUSSIA

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ENVIRONMENT

Greenland passes law banning uranium mining

Greenland's parliament voted Tuesday to ban uranium mining and exploration in the vast Danish territory, following through on a campaign promise from the ruling left-wing party which was elected earlier this year.

Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement.
Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement. File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won snap elections in April that were originally triggered by divisions over a controversial uranium and rare earth mining project.

The IA won 12 seats in the 31-seat Greenlandic national assembly, beating its rival Siumut, a social democratic party that had dominated politics in the island territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

On Tuesday 12 MPs in the national assembly voted to ban uranium mining, with nine voting against. 

The IA had campaigned against exploiting the Kuannersuit deposit, which is located in fjords in the island’s south and is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals.

The project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has not yet been officially abandoned.

But French group Orano announced in May it would not launch exploration despite holding permits to do so.

The massive natural riches of the vast island — measuring two million square kilometres, making it larger than Mexico — have been eyed by many, but few projects have been approved.

The island is currently home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

While Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining activities, it has also banned all oil exploration over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Mute Egede said he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement, which Greenland is one of the few countries not to have ratified.

READ ALSO: Greenland seabed scoured for marine diamonds

SHOW COMMENTS