Danish Air Force
© Royal Danish Air Force
Despite being massive, the $2.6 billion package to Kiev is seen as a rather symbolic gesture seeking to curry favor with NATO allies and bolster Denmark's image, as the Nordic country has long been lagging behind in terms of military spending.

Denmark plans to step up its military assistance to Ukraine by 17.9 billion kroner (nearly $2.6 billion) in 2023 and 2024, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has announced.

Earlier in March, Denmark established a $1 billion fund for military, civilian and business aid to Ukraine.

Frederiksen, recently named among possible contenders to become NATO's new boss as current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is due to step down in September, said Copenhagen planned to replenish it with another 7.5 billion kroner ($1.1 billion) this year, and 10.4 billion ($1.5 billion) next year, with the money being earmarked for military aid.

Comment: The Danish prime minister was present at the recent Bilderberg meeting and will go to the US on June the 5th, which ironically happens to be the Danish Constitution day. It certainly could look as if things are prepared for her to be the new boss of NATO, just like previously when the Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, became the chief of NATO. That was seen by some to be his present for playing a pivotal role in support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Mette Frederiksen could get the post for being so supportive of the NATO war on Russia.

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen stressed the necessity of "massive military support for Ukraine for a number of years to come, regardless of how the developments on the battlefield are.

"With the new contribution to the Ukraine Fund, Denmark will meet NATO's spending target of 2% of GDP, Acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen announced. According to him, this will allow Denmark to meet the objective by 2023 and 2024, as opposed to its initial plans of reaching the target by 2030.

Conversely, last year, Denmark spent only 1.38% of its GDP on its military budget.

However, pundits such as Kristian Soby Kristensen of the Center for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen stressed that this announcement is primarily of diplomatic importance and is aimed at bolstering Denmark's status as NATO's "good ally" ahead of the bloc's summit in mid-June, as well as the visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Denmark's fellow Nordic countries Sweden, Norway and Finland. He also warned of a "peak" in defense spending rather than a new practice from now until 2030.

What's Denmark's Role in Assisting Ukraine?

Denmark, a country of less than 6 million, has become one of Ukraine's top donors per capita, with Copenhagen providing nearly $1 billion in financial and military aid so far, accompanied by massive arms donations and extensive training programs. The Danish coalition government voiced ambitions to remain among the countries that provide the largest financial assistance to Ukraine in the future.

In mid-May, Denmark also announced that it would help train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets, as part of a pan-European initiative alongside the UK and the Netherlands. Last week, Frederiksen herself didn't rule out that Denmark would also donate some of its own F-16s, having 40 such fighters in its fleet. The jets are planned to be gradually phased out and replaced by the more modern F-35s over the next few years.

Previous Danish donations include naval missiles, mine clearing vehicles, and ammunition. Earlier in January, Denmark pledged all of its 19 French-made CAESAR howitzers to Ukraine, including some still on order, and in April it announced that it was buying, jointly with the Netherlands, 14 Leopard 2 tanks to give to Ukraine.

Denmark as War Hawk

Earlier this spring, the Danish Defense Ministry pledged to allocate DKK 38 billion ($5.6 billion) to bolstering its military, specifically in order to "plug budget holes" and get closer to NATO's spending target. The money will be spent on gear, equipment, buildings, information technology, personnel and new investments. The ministry cited the "current geopolitical situation" which warrants "more resources.

Danish military has also placed a stronger emphasis on its forward presence in the Baltic countries, which is touted as "protection" from Russia.

Nevertheless, despite the unprecedented funding, the Danish military remains admittedly understaffed to the point of reducing its overseas presence in the Middle East and limiting its Arctic patrols.

However, Denmark's outsized military commitment has taken its toll on the state coffers, prompting the government to abolish a traditional Christian holiday called Great Prayer Day, admittedly to replenish federal finances that are running dry.