WASHINGTON, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - There were no threats in the recent statement by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who said that the US Army "must deal with a revisionist Russia with its modern and capable army," the Pentagon said.
"There was no threatening comments in that speech aimed at any country," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a briefing on Thursday, adding that amid the uncertainties in the current situation in and around Ukraine it will be "imprudent" for the US "not to be thinking about the kinds of readiness capabilities we need to have throughout Europe because we have significant treaty commitments through NATO to our allies there."
When asked, what did Secretary Hagel mean by calling Russia "revisionist," Kirby said "I think what he is referring to there, is that there appears to be in their [Russia's] intentions and in their motives a coming back to the glory days of the Soviet Union."
When asked wouldn't it be more accurate to say that NATO has moved closer to Russia, rather than that Russia is moving closer to NATO, Kirby stated "I think that's the way President Putin is probably looking at it and certainly not the way we look at it."
Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the US State Department, who were also present at the briefing, added that NATO is a defensive alliance. "No reason for anybody to think that the expansion is a hostile or threatening move," Psaki said.
Psaki added that in her point of view the threat comes from Russia, not from NATO. "Other countries feel threatened," she said.
On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in his keynote address to the Association of the US Army that the US troops must be prepared to deal with Russia "with its modern and capable army on NATO's doorstep".
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed concern about this statement, saying that it "leads us to believe that Pentagon is working on scenarios of military action near the borders of our country." Russian Defense Minister added that it is Washington that has been "stubbornly" moving "NATO's doorstep" closer to Russian borders for the past 20 years.
Relations between Russia and NATO have been strained since the alliance accused Russia of meddling in the Ukrainian conflict, a claim Russia has repeatedly denied.
Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March, NATO stepped up its military presence near Russia's borders, specifically in Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO's increased military presence in its neighboring states.