Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has joined the ranks of military officials who believe that Russia poses the greatest existentialist threat against U.S. The secretary said that this fact is especially significant given that the U.S. has not regarded Russia an antagonist since the end of the Cold War.
Russia’s nuclear threat is not new
In a press briefing at the Pentagon, Carter highlighted that Russia poses an existential threat to the U.S. by virtue simply of the size of its nuclear arsenal. He, however, noted that this information is already given. What is new about Russia is that it has risen as an antagonist to the U.S. “for a quarter century or so,” Carter said.
An antagonist Russia “is something, therefore, that we need to adjust to and counter,” Carter told press. He added that the government is working together with NATO to adjust military strategy against the perceived Russian antagonism.
“We are adjusting our capabilities qualitative and in terms of their deployments, to take account of this behavior of Russia. We are also working with NATO in new ways, a new playbook, more oriented towards deterrence on its eastern border and with hardening countries on the borders of Russia,” Carter further said.
Carter said that both NATO member and non-NATO members are readying strategy to counter “the kind of hybrid warfare influence or little green man kind of influence that we see associated with Russia in Ukraine.”
U.S. still open to welcome friendly relations with Russia
The government, nevertheless, is continuing to work with Russia in aspects where it does not antagonize.
“There are places where they are working with us: in counterterrorism in many important respects, in some respects, with respect to North Korea, in some respects with respect to Iran and elsewhere,” Carter said.
The secretary said that as long as Russia’s interest is aligned with U.S., “we can work with them and will continue to do that.”
Carter hoped that Russia would eventually change its behavior from “one of confrontation with the rest of the world and self- isolation” to “better economic and political integration with the rest of the world.”