Mikhail Vanin, Russia’s ambassador to Denmark, wrote in an op-ed that the country will be a nuclear target if the government joins NATO’s missile defense system.
“I don’t think that Danes fully understand the consequence if Denmark joins the American-led missile defence shield,” wrote Vanin. “If they do, then Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles. Denmark would be part of the threat against Russia. It would be less peaceful and relations with Russia will suffer. It is, of course, your own decision – I just want to remind you that your finances and security will suffer. At the same time Russia has missiles that certainly can penetrate the future global missile defence system.”
Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine is not going unnoticed by the world, especially countries in close proximity to the situation. But as countries attempt to protect themselves, Moscow bullies them. In July, Denmark announced that “Danish troops will play a ‘significant’ role in Nato’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.” Danish Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen claimed the country is not joining the defense system as a way to target Russia.
“That Denmark will join the missile defence system with radar capacity on one or more of our frigates is not an action that is targeted against Russia, but rather to protect us against rogues states, terrorist organisations and others that have the capacity to fire missiles at Europe and the US,” he explained.
In 2014, NATO intercepted a record number of Russian planes and ships, some in Danish airspace. The Independent published a complete list of incidents between Russia and NATO between March and November. The European Leadership Network examined over 39 occasions. The Danish military reported it “scrambled its F-16 squadrons 58 times in 2014 to head off Russian aircraft.” Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard demanded answers from Moscow after “a passenger plane operated by Danish airline Cimber and a Russian military aircraft” nearly collided in December.
Lidegaard slammed Vanin’s threat.
“If that is what he has said, then it is unacceptable,” he exclaimed. “Russia knows full well that Nato’s missile defence is defensive and not targeted at (Russia). We disagree with Russia on many important issues, but we also cooperate, for example, in the Arctic and it is important that the tone between us does not escalate.”
Rufus Gifford, the US ambassador to Denmark, tweeted America’s support for their NATO partner:
US stands w/ DK in condemning statements made by Russia's Amb to DK. Such statements do not inspire confidence or contrib to peace/stability
— Rufus Gifford (@rufusgifford) March 21, 2015
However, Russia feels threatened by NATO, even though it is Moscow that is still violating Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“Denmark is a small country with a small army,” said Vanin. “OK – you are part of Nato, but a very small part. Moscow will not appreciate you joining the missile defence system – or any of the other countries that take part. It will escalate a situation that is already tense and will make things even worse. I cannot imagine the Cold War coming back again; but there are some who feel that Nato is moving closer and closer to the Russian border and strengthening its position. That creates insecurity in Russia.”
To add even more tension, Vanin mentioned the Baltics are “are one of the most unpredictable in the world.” The Balctics – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – are all former Soviet states. They are also the most outspoken critics of Russia within the European Union and NATO since they believe they are Russia’s next target. Vanin claimed their “hysteria” is “just an example of bad theatre,” but Latvia and Estonia have legitimate reasons to be worried. Russian President Vladimir Putin justified Crimea’s annexation and support for the rebels in east Ukraine on the basis of helping ethnic Russians. The Russian ambassador to Latvia told a Russian radio station in the country that Moscow is ready to give ethnic Russians citizenship. A Russian diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council that Moscow is concerned over the treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia.
In June, Sweden and Finland expressed a desire to join NATO. Russia issued a stern warning to the two countries during Finland’s National Defense Courses Association.
“Military cooperation between Russia and NATO is progressing well and is beneficial to both parties. In contrast, cooperation between Finland and NATO threatens Russia’s security. Finland should not be desirous of NATO membership, rather it should preferably have tighter military cooperation with Russia,” said Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Nikolai Yegorovich Makarov.