Arctic security: Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands forge consensus

From left to right, the flags of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Denmark. The three countries say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought war back to Europe with significant implications for European and transatlantic security.(Danish
Ministry of Defence)

With Copenhagen’s new defence plan, Denmark, Greenland, and Faroe Islands have forged a consensus on Arctic relations, they announced on Thursday.

“The goal is for the Arctic and the North Atlantic to continue to be an area of ​​low tension, where potential conflicts are resolved peacefully,” the statement said.

“With this goal in mind, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland must cooperate to improve surveillance and sovereignty enforcement in the region, as well as contribute to looking after the interests of the allies and NATO in the region.”

All the three countries stressed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had transformed the security picture in the North and required a unified response.

Copenhagen stressed the importance of the Danish Armed Forces’s role in ensuring the security of the Kingdom of Denmark in concert with the authorities in all three countries.

Evolving security picture in Arctic and North Atlantic

Representatives from the Danish government, the Faroe Islands’ national government and Greenland’s Naalakkersuisut will begin meeting regularly this fall to discuss surveillance and sovereignty enforcement in the region with regular ministerial meetings to be held during the upcoming defence settlement. 

“I look forward to the future cooperation on the concrete initiatives and capacities for the region,” said Denmark’s acting Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen on Wednesday. (Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix /AFP via Getty Images)

Faroese and Greenlandic participation in international defence policy forums and military exercises will also be discussed.

“I am pleased that there is agreement between the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Denmark on the basis for relations regarding The Arctic and the North Atlantic in the defense agreement,” acting Minister of Defense, Troels Lund Poulsen, said. 

“We see a changed threat picture in Europe, which also has an influence on the development of defense and security policy in the Arctic and the North Atlantic. It has emphasized the importance of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Denmark standing together – for the benefit of our common security.”

Stress on dual-use infrastructure in Faroe Islands and Greenland

Greenland said that any defence investments must prioritize benefitting society, ranging from using local companies, industries and research institutions to focusing on infrastructure that can double for military and civilian use.

General view of Ilulissat, western Greenland, on June 27, 2022. (Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

“We must strengthen civil preparedness in our society, make use of dual-use installations and create greater robustness for our communications,” Vivian Motzfeldt, Greenland’s Foreign Affairs minister, said. 

“We must do this in a deliberate way, so that we do not contribute to the risk of drawing conflicts from other parts of the world home to the Arctic.”

The Faroe Islands also called for a focus on infrastructure investments benefiting the local population and data and information sharing concerning cyber defense and hybrid threats.

“With the goal of continued peace and stability in mind, Faroese authorities must participate actively in cooperation on defense and security policy and be involved in all processes, plans and decisions that may be relevant to the Faroe Islands,” the archipelago’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Høgni Hoydal said. 

A view of Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, in 2018. (Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Parliamentary majority approves defence investments; meeting NATO spending objectives

On Wednesday, a parliamentary majority in Denmark approved Copenhagen’s defence plan which includes investing 143 billion DKK ($28 billion CDN) in the Armed Forces. A statement from the Ministry of Defence said it means Denmark will be contributing the NATO objective of spending two per cent of GDP on defense and security by 2030 at the latest.

Denmark released a new foreign and security policy strategy in May that places strong emphasis on Danish and European security, particularly in the Arctic.

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North:  

Canada: Vulnerability of Canada’s Arctic a security threat that needs urgent action: report, Eye on the Arctic

China: Satellite imagery reveals construction progress on new Chinese Antarctic base, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark: Danish policy prioritizes low-conflict Arctic amidst Russian tensions, Eye on the Arctic

FinlandTrial fence on Finland-Russia border nears completion, Lapland phase next, Yle news

Greenland: Growing focus on Arctic puts Greenland at higher risk of cyber attacks: assessment, Eye on the Arctic

IcelandIceland authorizes U.S. submarine service visits, Eye on the Arct

Norway: NATO scrambled to meet Russian bombers, aircraft north of carrier strike group, The Independent Barents Observer

RussiaWagner Group continues recruiting in Murmansk in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: US bombers land in northern Sweden for first time, Radio Sweden

United StatesFirst U.S. deep water port for the Arctic to host cruise ships, military, Eye on the Arctic

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