"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.
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.
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.