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Two important developments in Denmark illustrate the new geopolitical landscape in Europe.
Because Danish officials refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently cut off natural gas supplies to the Northern European country. As the Associated Press reported, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen compared Putin’s move to “blackmail,” a sentiment that reflects the country’s defiant stance since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
“We stand firm in our refusal to pay in rubles, and we’ve been preparing for this scenario,” Mads Nipper, chief executive of Danish energy company Ørsted, said. “The situation underpins the need of the EU (to become) independent of Russian gas by accelerating the build-out of renewable energy.”
Secondly, two-thirds of Danish voters recently opted to join the European Union’s common defense policy, CNN wrote. Denmark was the only member of the 27-nation EU to opt out, securing exemptions years ago. The move means Denmark will be more closely knitted into EU militaries, which now have missions in Bosnia, Mali and Somalia.
The Danes’ approval of this shift in a referendum is an example of how direct voting is becoming a preferred means for EU engagement and reforms, said University College Dublin Law Professor Imelda Maher and University of London Political Economist Dermot Hodson in the Conversation. The upshot is that people on the ground – not politicians like those portrayed in the hit Danish television political drama Borgen – are driving these tectonic changes.
Frederiksen recently also secured an additional $1 billion in defense spending for Denmark, which is also a NATO member, and pledged to cut down on Russian gas imports in order to strike an economic blow against Russia, Reuters added. Germany has also announced massive escalations in military spending in anticipation of warding off Russian threats.
These shifts also come as Finland and Sweden have decided to join NATO. If Putin had plans to fragment the West while he plundered Ukraine, his plans have arguably backfired, as Politico explained.
The changes could also impact Danish politics.
The Danish People’s Party, a far-right, anti-immigrant populist group, opposed joining the EU’s defense policy, reported the Washington Post. The overwhelming “yes” vote – 66 percent in favor, 33 percent opposed – obviously undercuts their standing. In recent months, internal conflicts and disagreements have also led parliamentarians in the party to quit in protest, the Local added. Still, judging how Denmark has made Syrian refugees feel unwelcome, the party’s platform continues to attract supporters.
These developments are still unfolding. But the changes hint at a new world.