A significant regional power in the Middle Ages, Denmark hasn’t been much of a military power in centuries, and while a NATO member, have never been a significant contributor to the alliance’s overall military might. Pressured by the US to increase military spending, Danish military budgets as a percentage of their GDP have been steadily declining since the late 1950s.
That may be about to change, however, with new Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen saying that Denmark plans significant increases in military spending in repose to “the Russian threat.” Exactly how big these increases will be remains unknown, but Frederiksen did say the 2% of GDP level sought by Obama was “unrealistic.”
Denmark currently spends about 1.2% of its GDP on its military, which is somewhere in the ballpark of $3 billion, and it isn’t even clear what they could theoretically spend more than that on, since Denmark isn’t on bad terms with any of its neighbors.
Even if they see a “threat” from Russia, with Fredriksen citing Russian missiles in Kaliningrad as “capable of reaching Copenhagen,” there appears to be nothing they can do about it in practical terms, as importing a couple of more surplus West German tanks isn’t going to turn them into a powerhouse capable of taking on Russia in a war.
This of course is the reason why most NATO nations don’t meet the Obama-mandated 2% spending level: they don’t face any real threats, and the only thing increasing spending really does is hurt their budgets as they import a few more hand-me-downs from the big arms-making nations.
That this continues to happen at all is just for the sake of placating the bigger NATO nations, as offers like Denmark’s to send 200 ground troops to the Estonia-Russia border don’t do anything practical except make the nation’s military spend money keeping 200 people in Estonia.