Obama’s Army chief-of-staff nominee Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday he believes Russia is the greatest threat to American national security due to its nuclear arsenal and hostile tactics beginning in 2008.
"As a soldier, as a military officer I’d have to say it is Russia," Milley said. "Russia is the only country on earth that retains the nuclear capability to destroy the United States. It is an existential threat to the United States. "
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) asked Milley what he believed currently presented the biggest danger to the nation. Milley went on to say that Russia, China, the Islamic State, and North Korea all posed risks. The general singled out Iran with the recent nuclear deal as an adversary still.
The statement echoes the analysis of Gen. Joseph Dunford, Obama’s nominee for the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ten days ago to the same committee.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican Mitt Romney said Russia was the nation's No. 1 geopolitical foe. President Obama scoffed at Romney’s view, telling him "the Cold War is over."
These views on Russia also deliver a political blow to Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State during the failed "Russian reset." Clinton also mocked Romney’s "dated" view of Russia in 2012. She called the nation run by Vladimir Putin an "ally." In 2010, as part of the reset, Clinton explained, "Our goal is to help strengthen Russia.
"So it has the capability. Intent, I don’t know," Milley said. "But the activity of Russia since 2008 has been very, very aggressive."
Russia launched an invasion of Georgia in August 2008 after stating that Georgia displayed aggression against South Ossetia. Russia still illegally occupies South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Since the Russo-Georgian War, Russia has supported, and continues to support, separatists in eastern Ukraine, although officials deny Russia's participation in the conflict in Ukraine.