The US State Department says Secretary of State John Kerry does not think Russia is posing an “existential threat” to the United States, but ISIL and other terrorist groups do.
General Joseph Dunford, the nominee to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has previously described Russia as a threat to the US.
Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that “My assessment today… is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.”
“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. And if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”
However, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Friday that “the secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly.”
Relations between Washington and Moscow have plunged to a post-Cold War low since Russia reunified with Crimea in 2014.
The US has been accusing Russia of destabilizing Ukraine by supporting pro-Russian forces fighting in the eastern parts of the country.
Toner said Washington has been “very frank” with Moscow about areas of disagreement, “but we don’t view it as an existential threat.”
He noted that the two countries still cooperate closely on some international issues, ranging from talks on Iran nuclear program to the civil war in Syria.
He added that Kerry considers the ISIL and other terrorist groups as “an existential threat”.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, have beheaded three American, two British and two Japanese hostages in recent months. The videos of their beheadings were posted online.
By Press TV