Russia poses the biggest military threat to America, according to The Secretary of the US Air Force, Deborah James.
The Air Force boss told Reuters at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday that Russia’s nuclear capabilities pose a very real threat to the United States.
“Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we’re dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States,” Deborah James said on Saturday.
She called recent unsafe encounters between Russian and American aircraft “very worrying,” saying there needed to be more dialogue between the two sides in order to prevent these incidents of “very dangerous airmanship” from leading to an all-out war.
James made the remarks after a series of similar warnings by her and other high-ranking US military officials at the conference.
Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the conference that Russia was determined to limit NATO and prevent the US from projecting power around the world.
“They are operating with a frequency and in places that we haven’t seen for decades,” he said, while pointing to the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson echoed those points, saying more communications with Russia would be “valuable.”
The US navy cut all communications with the Russian navy after the Crimea region voted in a referendum to join Russia in 2014, according to Richardson.
This year, tensions continued to mount after Russian and US aircraft buzzed each other over the Baltic, while Washington accused Moscow of trying to interfere in the US presidential elections.
Bickering over nuclear issues has also increased markedly in recent months.
In late October, Moscow moved batteries of nuclear-capable missiles to its western borders with the NATO, in response to a years-long military buildup by the US-led military alliance on Russia’s doorstep.
The US, in September, flew three long-range nuclear bombers over Eastern Europe to participate in NATO military exercises.
The back and forth further escalated in early October when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of a Cold War deal with the US to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium.