Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., Obama administration’s nominee to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services committee that Russia is currently the greatest threat to US national security.
Dunford is a nominee to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which the highest-ranking military post in the US.
If confirmed by the Senate, Dunford will act as the chief military adviser to the president, as well as the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.
"If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia," he said in his confirmation hearing.
US-Russia tensions have greatly deteriorated last year, following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation after which Russia said it is ready to deploy its nuclear arsenal back to the Peninsula.
Moreover, Russian President Putin said on June 16 that Russia would add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year.
The US and its NATO allies grew alarmed and voiced their concerns on the issue as the Pentagon accused Moscow of “playing with fire” by violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
On the other hand, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in June that the US global missile defense system violates the INF treaty.
At the time, Lavrov also stressed that US accused Russia without providing “concrete evidence that gives Americans grounds to think that we violated something.”
Dunford stated that Russia is doing “things inconsistent with national interests,” and as a nuclear power it could harm the sovereignty of the US’ allies.
“If you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming" he added.
Dunford thinks that providing lethal anti-tank and artillery assistance to US allies as some US lawmakers suggest is “reasonable.”
Although there are some top US officials that approve of providing lethal equipment to Ukraine, the US administration declines to do so. The US has only provided non-lethal equipment for Ukrainian forces so far.
However, Dunford thinks that without the US’s support, Ukraine will not be able to protect itself from Russia.
In the latest US National Military Strategy, the Pentagon referred to Russia as an opponent of US-enforced international law and order. Listed as “revisionist” powers, China, Iran and North Korea were grouped in the same category with Russia.
Head of the United States Air Force Deborah James said on Wednesday that Russia is the biggest threat to US national security and America must expand its military presence in Europe.
In late June, United States Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed that the Pentagon will deploy tanks and heavy artillery near the Russian borders in Eastern Europe and the Baltics in the wake of painful Ukraine crisis that has been alarming the NATO member states neighbouring with Russia.