03:43 GMT19 April 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Russia remains the only country in the world that has the nuclear capabilities to destroy the United States, and thus represents the sole existential treat to Washington, US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said.

    "Because of Russian nuclear capabilities they are the only country on Earth that is capable to destroy the United States," Milley said, speaking to members of the US House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

    Milley explained that having such capabilities does not mean Russia will try to conduct a serious military attack against the United States.

    However, it does mean that Russia "remains the only current existential threat to the United States," Milley emphasised.

    The senior official also claimed that Russia would try to undermine NATO as an alliance and would challenge the United States in all regions of the world, including the Arctic, as part of its bid to return to great power status.

    Also Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he hoped Russia would not be a security threat to the United States, adding that he thinks the US could still 'get along' with Moscow. "I hope we have a good relationship with Russia…I think we'll get along with Russia, I do believe that," Trump said, while emphasising the "tremendous progress" to make NATO "a lot stronger" due to increased defence spending by alliance members.

    The president made the remarks during his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg amid talks marking the alliance's 70th anniversary.

    Gen. Milley's comments echoed the sentiments of former Obama-era NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, who accused Russia of "chosing" to be "long-term existential threat to the US" and its European allies and partners in 2016. Other US military leaders and politicians have made similar claims in the years since.

    The commander made no reference to the systematic expansion of NATO in Central and Eastern Europe over the past two decades, nor the alliance's military buildup in Poland, Romania and the Baltic States in the wake of the 2014 Ukrainian crisis, or the deployment of the US's missile defence shield components in the region.

    Last month, Deputy Defence Minister Gen. Valery Gerasimov said that Russia needed to prepare to defend against both classical and asymmetric means of warfare as Russia's adversaries prepare to wage conflicts using high-precision air and space-based weapons as well as information warfare. Gerasimov stressed the defensive nature of Russia's own military doctrine.


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