Denmark shows the way: There is only one way to win

Commitment is the only thing you need. Nothing else matters.

Shankar Narayan
6 min readMay 16, 2024

Nestled between Norway and Sweden to the north, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland to the south, and the Baltic Sea and Baltic nations to the east, Denmark is not a tempting target for the imperialist threat looming at Europe’s eastern doors.

They could have easily hit the snooze button and let the larger nations handle the existential threat to the democratic world.

With a GDP of $406 billion, Denmark ranks as the 15th largest economy in Europe. However, Denmark is living proof that money can’t buy happiness. On the happiness index, they are only surpassed by the Finns. But, when it comes to helping a fellow democracy under threat from a dictator, Denmark is second only to Estonia.

Interesting, isn’t it.

What is even more interesting about Denmark is that in the last two years, Denmark spent $9.7 billion on its defense, which is roughly the same amount they provided to Ukraine between January 24, 2022, and February 29, 2024. During that period, Denmark has either pledged or committed $9.4 billion in military, humanitarian, and economic aid to Ukraine.

A few hours ago, Denmark announced its latest aid package for Ukraine, amounting to $815 million. Denmark is the only country in the world to have given more money to help Ukraine than it has invested in its own defense.

That is commitment.

I think the Kiel tracker should create another graph to compare Ukraine aid against countries’ own defense spending. Seeing Denmark lead the aid charts made me curious. It’s similar with people — when there is heart, it almost always ends up delivering a lot more than it appears at first glance.

I had a deep suspicion that the $10 billion Denmark sent to Ukraine would make a meaningful contribution to their fight for freedom. Many nations try to influence the war by sending loads of low-end weapons and racking up the dollar bill to keep us confused.

Denmark did not disappoint.

They are most probably the only country in the world to have cleared their artillery shelves.

In 2023, Denmark received a batch of 19 Caesar howitzers from France’s Nexter. They sent all the units to Ukraine. Not only the Caesar guns, but Denmark also delivered the entire stock of artillery shells to Ukraine. At the Munich Security Conference in February this year, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen made the announcement and urged other nations to wake up to the reality:

“They [the Ukrainians] are asking us for ammunition now. Artillery now. From the Danish side, we decided to donate our entire artillery.

Sorry to say, friends, there is still military equipment in stock in Europe.

It is not only a question about production because we have weapons, we have ammunition, we have air defence systems that we don’t have to use ourselves at the moment — that must be handed over to Ukraine,” she added.

Apart from the aid that has already been pledged, Denmark has also set aside an €8.1 billion Ukraine aid fund, which will enable it to continue financing its support until at least 2028.

I am a little stunned and a bit ashamed myself because I did read the Danish Prime Minister’s statement in February. I also knew that they are an integral part of the fighter jet coalition that is helping Ukraine build its air force. But somehow, I completely missed hopping on to the Danish boat until this very day.

I sort of saved the best for last.

Denmark had 44 F-16 fighter jets, of which 24 aircraft were sold to Argentina in April 2024, while 19 F-16s are headed to Ukraine. Many people were upset that Denmark chose to sell the F-16s to Argentina instead of sending them to Ukraine.

Denmark has seriously undermined its own defense to help Ukraine. They have completely cleared their artillery shells and launchers, and they have also committed to sending a large portion of their fighter jets to Ukraine. Therefore, it is necessary for us to take a closer look at the reasons Denmark chose to sell 24 jets to Argentina.

Denmark’s defense ministry valued the deal — which also includes engines, spare parts, simulators, and training equipment — at around 2.1 billion kroner ($300 million).

These are used jets. The deal with Argentina has been made, but the delivery will take place over the next few years, allowing Denmark the space to reconstitute its air force. They received $300 million for the sale to Argentina but provided closer to $815 million in one package just a few hours ago.

The total supply of fighter jets to Ukraine, including 42 from the Netherlands, 22 from Norway, and 19 from Denmark, is already at a decent level for Ukraine to get going. Additionally, there is a possibility that Greece, one of the largest air forces in Europe, may send a double-digit number of jets to Ukraine.

I’m not sure if Denmark’s decision to sell 24 jets to Argentina is a bad strategic move. I think they pulled forward some cash while giving themselves time to rebuild their air force, all while also helping Ukraine.

According to the Danish Government, they are not only helping Ukraine with figther jets. They are actively helping Ukraine build an airforce.

Since fall 2023 Denmark, the Netherlands, and the US have been heading the international air-force coalition. This coalition focuses on supporting Ukraine’s efforts to develop and configure a fully-fledged air-force. The initial efforts center on establishing a viable Ukrainian F-16 capacity. Besides training and donations, other priorities include the necessary infrastructure and maintenance.

Why are we not electing more women to lead us?

I think the Kiel tracker reveals a sad reality. We are still stuck with the belief that men are inherently better leaders, refusing to accept the fact that women are often superior leaders, especially when faced with dark times.

Let us accept the reality. Men like Churchill and Roosevelt come once in a century. So, we can’t keep waiting for them to arrive. Women are a much safer bet in a world that is heading into turbulence.

The top three nations aiding Ukraine in terms of GDP percentage are led by women:Estonia by Kaja Kallas, Denmark by Mette Frederiksen, and Lithuania by Ingrida Šimonytė. These leaders demonstrate decisive action and empathy, often surpassing their male counterparts in times of crisis.

Oh, well.

U.S. President Biden sits at 22 on that list, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is at 12, and French President Macron is at 17. I am simply not ready to buy any explanation these leaders are going to give. Where do you think Roosevelt and Churchill would have been if there was a list made during the Second World War? They would have always been number one and two.

Roosevelt turned the United States into a wartime economy. I have no doubts whatsoever that the leaders of the four richest democratic nations will never get there. The appointment of Andrey Belousov, an economist, as the Minister of Defense, is the indicator you need to conclude that Putin is moving step by step to turn Russia into a wartime economy.

But unfortunately, only three women leaders of our time have truly grasped the situation and stepped up.

The rest are still playing catch up.

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Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.