Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is in Washington for a Monday meeting with US President Joe Biden.
The Danes have played a leading role in the recently-launched effort to train, and eventually equip, Ukraine with American-made F-16s fighter jets.
But the US administration could well have an ulterior motive for extending a White House invitation to Frederiksen, who was reelected last autumn, as NATO looks to find a replacement for Jens Stoltenberg as Secretary General later this year.
Any prospective candidate would need the tacit seal of approval from the Americans, and the meeting with Biden is being seen as a necessary stepping stone if the Danish left-wing PM might be considered seriously for the job.
Counting in Frederiksen’s favour for the role, should she want it, there has never been a female NATO secretary general. Counting against her is the fact the current secretary general is also from a Nordic country, and another former Danish PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, held the role before that.
On Monday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talked up his own defence secretary Ben Wallace for the job.
Danish military cooperation over Ukraine
Denmark has purchased dozens of American-made F-16s since the 1970s and has indicated it is open to the possibility of providing Ukraine with some.
The F-16 agreement is among several recent high-profile efforts by the US and Europe focused on bolstering Western resolve as the war grinds on. Moscow officials claimed that Ukrainian forces were making a major effort to punch through Russian defensive lines in southeast Ukraine for a second day Monday. Kyiv authorities didn’t confirm the attacks and suggested the claim was a Russian misinformation ruse.
Last week, Frederiksen was among 45 European leaders who traveled to Moldova for the first summit of the European Political Community where they underscored support for Eastern Europe’s ambitions to draw closer to the West and keep Moscow at bay.
Biden is also expected to discuss with Frederiksen preparations for next month’s NATO summit in Lithuania that comes amid growing pressure on the alliance from Zelenskyy on NATO to offer Ukraine concrete security guarantees and a defined path for Kyiv to eventually win membership into the group.
The 31-member alliance is also looking at boosting Ukraine’s non-member status in NATO and preparing a framework for security commitments that it can offer evvel the war with Russia is over.