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Joint Chiefs Nominee: Russia, China Biggest Threats to US

by Isabela Cocoli July 09, 2015

A U.S. general ranked Russia and China as the number one and two threats to the United States national security.

"Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security," Marine General Joseph Dunford said Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Russia's behavior is "nothing short of alarming," he added.

Asked whether the United States should provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, Dunford said that from a military standpoint, it would be a "reasonable" response.

"Frankly, without that kind of support, [Ukrainians] are not going to be able to defend themselves against Russian aggression," and fight against pro-Russian separatists in eastern region of their country, Dunford said.

Chairman of the committee, Arizona Senator John McCain interjected, saying that "in Europe, Vladimir Putin's Russia continues its onslaught in Ukraine.'

"But even as Russian troops and equipment execute this neo-imperial campaign to undermine Ukraine's government and independence, the United States has refused Ukraine the weapons it needs and deserves for its defense," he said.

Relations between Russia and the West have sunk to the lowest point in post-Cold War period, because Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia, but so far no lethal arms are provided to the Ukrainian forces.

Asked about China, Dunford said he would rank that country as the second potential threat to the U.S. national security.

"China is not necessarily our enemy," but said it is his responsibility to evaluate the military capability of that country vis-à-vis the U.S. national security.

In his prepared testimony, Dunford said China's "rapid military modernization and growing defense budgets, have led many in the region–including the United States–to question its long-term intentions."

Dunford also listed North Korea and the so-called Islamic State militant group among other top threats, though he pointed out his ranking was not an indication of the order the U.S. should deal with each potential threat.

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