Denmark on Monday said it would not be sending a military cargo plane to help UN peacekeepers in Mali, earmarking the aircraft for NATO duties instead because of the Ukraine crisis.
“We are keeping our C130 — a Hercules transport plane — at home so that it can be ready to respond to any request from NATO,” Defence Minister Morten Bodskov told a press conference.
The Hercules had been scheduled to join MINUSMA, the UN’s peacekeeping deployment in Mali, on a deployment running from May to November.
The government described the decision as a “delay,” but gave no further details.
MINUSMA is one of the UN’s biggest and most dangerous peacekeeping operations, with currently 13,000 troops.
Its deployment began in 2013 to help shore up the fragile Sahel state in the face of a jihadist insurgency.
Denmark has contributed to the mission since 2014, committing a transporter to its operations three times, most recently in 2019.
Diplomats in New York last month said that the future of MINUSMA, whose annual mandate comes up for renewal in June, may be compromised by recent developments in Mali.
The junta in Mali has developed a partnership with Russia and fallen out with France, the country’s traditional ally.
As a result, France is pulling its forces out of the country as part of a major reconfiguration of its anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel.
French forces have helped underpin MINUSMA’S operations with air and medical support.
Sweden last week announced that it would withdraw its 220 soldiers from Mali a year earlier than usual.
In January, Denmark, under Malian pressure, withdrew its contingent from a separate French-led mission under which European allies send special forces to help Mali’s beleaguered army.