Denmark promises increased focus on Arctic as it takes over NORDEFCO chair

A fighter jet participating in the Arctic Fighter Meet exercise in August 2023 as part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO).  (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

Increased focus on the Arctic and North Atlantic will be amongst Copenhagen’s priorities when it takes over  chairmanship of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) from Sweden on January 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“The Baltic Sea region, Arctic and the North Atlantic will be geographical areas of particular importance in 2024,” a ministry spokesperson told Eye on the Arctic in emailed comment on Friday.

“The Danish Defence Intelligence Service has recently stated that the security climate in the Arctic Region is expected to become more unstable due to increased military activity, and it is possible that Russia and China will increase their cooperation in the region. Given the Kingdom of Denmark’s position, it is only natural for us to focus on the developments in the Arctic and North Atlantic region.”

Copenhagen stressed its commitment to a  low-conflict North, but pointed to NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept that flagged the challenges Moscow could present for western countries, including its capability to “disrupt Allied reinforcements and freedom of navigation across the North Atlantic,” as an example of the importance of increasing attention on the North.

“Our ambition is to maintain the region as a region of low tension as we face new and special challenges in the North Atlantic and the Arctic region,” the ministry spokesperson said.

“This is important for strategic lines of communication and supply, as well as for capabilities and operational cooperation. We are consequently looking into enhancing our surveillance capabilities in the region. Closer Nordic cooperation and coordination within the overall NATO-framework will be of importance.”

Work on joint operations, armaments ongoing

NORDEFCO is an alliance between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to cooperate on national defence issues and develop the ability to better operate together. With Finland’s accession to NATO and  Sweden’s future membership, Copenhagen says NORDEFCO’s work has more importance than ever. 

“Building on the work taken on by Sweden in 2023, the main task for NORDEFCO in 2024 is to build on and implement recent decisions, while maintaining a close cooperation internally and with partners on security challenges, in particular the continued support to Ukraine and the implications of NATO membership,” the ministry said. 

“Among other priorities, the Danish chair will also maintain momentum in the ongoing work to increase our ability to conduct and command combined joint operations and further engage in closer cooperation in the armaments area.”

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

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: U.S. report claims Trudeau told NATO Canada will never meet military spending target, CBC News

Finland: Finland invites American troops to bases in Lapland, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: British & Norwegian F-35s scrambled in North to intercept Russian military plane, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Putin beefs up naval nuclear arsenal, promises more subs, The Independent Barents Observer

United Kingdom: UK urged to bolster Arctic defense as grey-zone threats rise: report, Eye on the Arctic

United States: First U.S. deep water port for the Arctic to host cruise ships, military, The Associated Press

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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