Danish lawmakers agree to hike military spending, citing Russia threat

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish lawmakers on Sunday agreed to allocate an additional 12.8 billion crowns ($2.14 billion) to military spending over the next six years, citing Russia as one of the major threats to its security.

FILE PHOTO - Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen visits the Danish Air Force team during their NATO air policing mission in Siauliai, Lithuania January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Under the agreement, proposed in October last year, NATO-member Denmark will also establish a 4,000-member army brigade focused on the Baltic Sea.

By 2023, military spending will be 20 percent above current levels. For 2018, parliament has earlier agreed to military spending of 22 billion crowns.

“The threat from Russia is real and increasing, so we must show determination to defence - and we are determined,” Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in a statement.

In 2016, Russia moved nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to its enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea and deployed its S-400 air missile defense system there.

In April the same year Denmark said Russia had hacked its defense computer network and gained access to employees’ emails in 2015 and 2016.

Denmark, which spent around 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product on its military in 2016, will still not after the increase meet a NATO defense spending target of 2 percent of the gross domestic product.

In a separate statement, Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen cited Denmark’s other security concerns.

“The international threat picture is very serious. A more assertive Russia close to NATO’s borders, terrorism, cyber threats and irregular migrant flows are all things we need to deal with.”

($1 = 5.9935 Danish crowns)

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky