The Russian ambassador to Denmark recently stated in an interview with the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that, “I do not think that the Danes fully understands the consequences if Denmark joins the US-led missile defense shield. If that happens, Danish warships become targets for Russian nuclear missiles.” These remarks have predictably been met with trepidation and anger by Danish officials. The mere mention of a nuclear attack would be enough to cause panic in any country, so it comes as no surprise that Denmark would try pacifying Russia while simultaneously trying to reassure its NATO allies that it can still practice its commitments towards collective defense.
The roots of this conflict undoubtedly lie in the escalating Ukrainian Crisis. Both the West (America and the European Union) are backing the legitimate Ukrainian government while the East (Russia and its allies) are supporting the separatist regimes. In search of a temporary peace, the United States and the EU wished to curtail Russian involvement and lessen its military activity in Ukraine by imposing economic sanctions upon the country. However, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has used these sanctions to strengthen the Russian resolve by promising its people to restore the country to its days of glory. Putin has made it amply clear that he will not concede to the demands of the West and forge a lasting resolution until Russia has been given a fair say in the matter. In order to accomplish this mission, Putin has also readied Russia’s nuclear missiles, intending to scare countries into acceding to Putin’s demands by practicing brinkmanship, a policy not seen since the Cold War.
Now that Russia is flexing its military and strategic might over Denmark and possibly the whole of Europe, it stands to say that the main question is how the United States and NATO will react to this. And the most likely answer is by increasing missile defense capacities in Europe, by positioning troops near the borders of Eastern Europe, and by calling for a Security Council session to ruminate on any possible courses of action. The United States would not dare to brazenly resist Russian movement for fear of triggering a nuclear armageddon. Therefore, it must attempt all diplomatic options while, at the same time, anticipate Russian military involvement and duly prepare for a fight. The recent comments towards Denmark present a tricky question that is tied to the fate of Ukraine and that of Europe, and it necessitates a stern, yet conciliatory response towards Russia.
In spite of the tensions surrounding Europe and the United States, there is still hope in solving the Ukrainian crisis and reintegrating Russia back into a respectable position in the international community. It is worth mentioning that an agreement was reached in Minsk, Belarus by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Belarus over a Ukrainian ceasefire in February. There is a possibility that a similar arrangement could be arranged between the United States, Russia, and the European Union, averting a possible global conflict. Maybe two months from now, we’ll be laughing over how Russia “threatened” to fire nuclear weapons at Denmark, thankful that peace was agreed upon.