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Danish PM criticizes Europe’s “naive” attitude to Russian threats

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Mette Frederiksen urged Europe to increase defense and security funding to deter a “more aggressive Russia.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the Munich Conference
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the Munich Conference in Germany, February 2024. Credit: Tobias Hase/dpa
Danish PM criticizes Europe’s “naive” attitude to Russian threats

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen emphasized the need for Europe to increase defense and security funding to deter a “more aggressive Russia.”

The call for heightened defense spending comes amid warnings from European capitals about Russia’s rapid rearmament, which poses a potential threat to NATO countries. Frederiksen’s comments are particularly significant given her strong support for Ukraine and her potential candidacy for future leadership roles within NATO and the European Council.

Frederiksen told FT that “naive” Europe has to learn from the mistakes of the 1930s, urging a scale-up of the defense industry to contain Russia’s imperialist ambitions, which have manifested in its ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“Freedom comes with a price,” Frederiksen remarked, highlighting that European countries, including Denmark, have historically underspent on defense since the end of the Cold War. The Danish Prime Minister suggested that the current geopolitical and economic landscape necessitates a shift in priorities, with less spending on welfare and tax cuts to accommodate increased defense budgets.

“We have been too naive, and in the western part of the world we have been too focused on getting richer, and therefore we also have built up dependencies on countries that we should not be dependent on – gas from Russia, and new technologies from China,” Frederiksen told FT.

Earlier, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius urged Europe and NATO to prepare for “the worst case scenario”: “I don’t like to look into the crystal ball,” he said. “I can’t predict if and when an attack on NATO territory might occur. But it could happen in five to eight years,” Pistorius said in an interview during the Munich Security Conference.

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