Danish defense minister: It’s time for the West to ‘offer sacrifices’ to help secure Ukraine

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Speech transcript

Remarks as delivered


H.E. Morten Bødskov
Minister of Defense, Kingdom of Denmark

We meet at critical times. While we are gathered here today, the Ukrainian people continue their fight for their country’s survival. They don’t know when the next round of deadly missiles will hit their houses. They live in daily fear for the safety of their relatives, family members, neighbors, and friends.

Putin has miscalculated. He thought the Russian military would prevail quickly. It did not. He thought the Ukrainian people would give up quickly. They did not. And he thought the West would hesitate and would quickly be divided. But we did not.

It is critical that we maintain and sustain our support to Ukraine. It is also critical that we maintain our stamina, although the winter will be cold. And it is critical that we maintain our focus, even though TV channels and entertainment continues, while a terrible war is taking place on European soil.

Putin must not be allowed to win. He must not be allowed to show the world that brutality wins. He must not be allowed to show the world that breaking rules and borders goes uncountered. He must not be allowed to prevail on the basis that might is right.

This is why it is so important for us—across the Atlantic, in NATO, and also in Europe—to stand together now.

Putin’s attack on Ukraine is an effort to bring Europe back to before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is an effort to break the international rules-based system that we have carefully developed since the Second World War.

Putin is longing back to a growing Russian empire of colonial times. He sees his neighborhood so to say as a buffet, where he can pick and choose. It’s not going to happen. It is a direct threat to our values, to peace and security, and also to democracy and prosperity.

We do not want to go back to the days of empire and military conquest. We have been there. We left that understanding many years ago. We cannot go back, and we must not go back.

That is the reason why it is so important for the West to continue to stand together.

That is why I salute the way Ukraine [is] fighting back so fiercely. Russia grossly underestimated the will and skill of the Ukrainian people. And the power of freedom and self-rule.

But Ukraine’s fight for freedom is far from over. And it is crucial that we continue our active support with weapons, with sanctions, with political support.

We need to protect our common values: democracy, peace, and freedom. Right now, this fight goes on in Ukraine.

Earlier in August, twenty-six countries gathered in Copenhagen at the Copenhagen Ukraine Conference to discuss how best to secure and enhance long-term military assistance to Ukraine.

Together with the United Kingdom and Ukraine, we gathered an alliance of democratic nations who all share a strong will to support Ukraine.

We aimed to push pledges “from spreadsheets to action” so to say. And we agreed that partners would consider increased funding to enhance armament productions, as well as training necessary to defend Ukraine.

In Copenhagen, we succeeded in raising a further $1.5 billion in aid for Ukraine. And Denmark will keep working for support. Because Ukraine is fighting a just war. Because Ukraine is fighting our fight.

In Denmark, we also feel Russia’s aggression. We are geographically close to Russia, in the High North, and in the Baltic Sea.

Especially the three Baltic nations are exposed, and they deserve our full military support.

That is why Denmark is having more than 1,200 soldiers placed in the Baltic states with a focus on Latvia and Estonia. That is why we with very short notice supported Lithuania with F16s to support Baltic air policing.

Putin’s miscalculations by invading Ukraine are also seen in another way in Denmark’s close neighborhood. Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO is historic and highly welcome.

It will make the Alliance stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. Finland and Sweden will have greater security than they had before. And so will Denmark, NATO, and Europe too. 

We have a long history of close cooperation among the Nordic countries, and this [cooperation] will now be fully integrated with NATO. This will enhance our cooperation even further.

Later this week, I will meet my Baltic and Nordic colleagues in Gotland, Sweden, to discuss the strategic importance of the Baltic Sea and see exactly how we can take our cooperation even further.

Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to meet with my good colleague, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. This meeting is a tribute to the long-lasting friendship between our two countries. An Alliance and a really true friendship.

During World War II, the United States made tremendous sacrifices in the fight against evil and for the freedom of Europe.

Since then, we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder against dictatorship and for democracy during the Cold War.

We stood shoulder-to-shoulder against the threat from terror in Iraq, in Afghanistan. For generations, the United States has been Denmark’s most important ally.

We need to continue to stand close together—shoulder-to-shoulder. The threats and challenges we are facing now are of a different and more fundamental nature. As democratic nations we are facing a long-term and systemic challenge to our way of life.

Not only from Russia but also from China.

That is a challenge we need to meet with firmness. And some developments give me cause for optimism.

In June, I was encouraged by the recent NATO Summit in Madrid. Historical decisions were made on Finland and Sweden. Strong unity on Ukraine. Universal condemnation of Russia. And criticism of China’s silent support.

And I am encouraged by the fact that Denmark and the United States are currently negotiating a bilateral defense cooperation agreement. It will benefit our common security, and it will strengthen the bond between our two countries.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the United States for its leadership. It is evident to me that strong US leadership is necessary if we are to prevail in the present fundamental conflict.

The hard fight for our values—freedom, democracy, and peace—is right now taking place in Ukraine. And it is vital that we continue and sustain our support to the Ukrainian people. Also for the coming years.

Their fight is, so to say, our fight. It is the fight of my generation. It is crucial that we maintain focus and that we in the West are ready to offer sacrifices. They cannot be compared to the sacrifices that the Ukrainian people are now going through. But they are vital for their physical and moral survival. And Denmark is ready to do our share.

Thank you.

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Image: Danish Minister of Defence Morten Bodskov speaks during a news conference about the support for Ukraine in Copenhagen, Denmark August 10, 2022. Photo via Ritzau Scanpix/Martin Sylvest via REUTERS.