Denmark to increase defense spending and phase out Russian natural gas

Denmark will significantly increase its defense budget and aim to become independent of Russian natural gas in response to Moscow’s war on Ukraine, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a press conference Sunday evening.

Copenhagen will also hold a referendum on June 1 on whether it should join the EU’s common defense policy.

Under an agreement between Denmark’s main parliamentary parties, the country will gradually increase its defense budget until it reaches 2 percent of GDP by 2033, in line with the NATO goal.

“Historical times also call for historical decisions,” Frederiksen said.

Party leaders also agreed to wean Denmark off Russian gas. While the timeframe isn’t clear, Frederiksen said it would happen “as soon as possible.”

“Energy policy is not just energy policy,” the prime minister said, adding that it was also a matter of “security policy.”

On June 1, Danes will vote in a referendum on whether they want their country to join up with the EU on defense, after 30 years of opting out of the bloc’s common security and defense policies. Currently, Denmark doesn’t take part in joint EU military operations.

The Danish parliamentary agreement comes while countries around the bloc are rethinking their defense strategies and their deep reliance on Russian gas. Germany has reversed its historic policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones and sharply increased its spending on defense to more than 2 percent of its GDP.

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