National Security

Top Pentagon Generals Deem Russia Largest ‘Existential Threat’ to U.S.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin / AP

Two Pentagon generals tapped by President Obama to hold top posts at the Department of Defense have named Vladimir Putin’s Russia as the most significant threat to the United States.

Foreign Policy reported that U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, nominated by Obama to serve as the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in remarks to the Senate Committee on Armed Services Tuesday labeled Russia, China, and Iran the top three countries posing threats to the United States.

Selva said he "would put the threats to this nation in the following order: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and all of the organizations that have grown around ideology that was articulated by al Qaeda."

When pressed by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, on why terrorists such as the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) fall at the end of his list, Selva insisted that such terrorists "[do] not present a clear and present threat to our homeland."

More concerning, Selva argued, is the fact that the Russian military could pose an "existential threat to this country should they choose to be."

Selva joined Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Obama’s choice to serve as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in highlighting Russia as the most significant threat to the United States.

"If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia," Dunford explained during his confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee last week, focusing on Putin’s actions in Ukraine. "If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming."

He ranked China, North Korea, and IS terrorists as the next largest threats to the homeland.