Russia and its non-strategic nuclear weapons pose the greatest risk to the United States in Europe. This was announced on January 19 by the candidate for the post of the head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin, answering questions from members of the Committee on the Armed Forces of the Senate of the Congress.
“In the area of responsibility of the European Command of the US Armed Forces, the greatest military risk is Russia’s aggressive behavior in order to undermine European security, coupled with its military modernization, including investments in long-range cruise missiles, submarine and cyber capabilities, as well as the development and deployment of its new, so-called innovative nuclear systems and a wide and varied arsenal of non-strategic nuclear weapons, ”he said.
Austin believes that Washington should contain Russia, while avoiding escalation and preserving opportunities for expanding cooperation that could be of mutual interest.
The main goal of relations between the two countries should be to protect the interests of the United States both to protect allies “from military aggression” and to strengthen partners in the “fight against intimidation”, including by organizing “due consequences for malicious actions.” Austin assured that he would consult with NATO allies on any changes in the US strategy in Europe.
“Some potential areas for greater security cooperation include: strategic arms control, counter-terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and de-conflict in areas where our military forces operate close together,” the Pentagon chief said.
Speaking about the possibility of extending the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Arms (START, START III), Austin noted that nuclear arms control is in the interests of the United States. According to him, he managed to get acquainted with the Russian nuclear modernization program, but at the moment he cannot talk about any details of the negotiations. In particular, Austin cannot claim the conformity of specific weapons systems.
He stressed that if he is approved for the post of the head of the Pentagon, he will require expanded information on this issue. Austin added that the extension of the treaty is in Washington’s interests.
“Yes, I think so, and so does President-elect (Joe) Biden,” Austin added.
In turn, the candidate for the post of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, answering questions from members of the committee, said that the United States in negotiations with the Russian Federation would not agree to a reduction in its missile defense program and could not imagine the circumstances in which Washington would have acted differently.
Earlier on Tuesday, answering questions from members of the Committee on the Armed Forces of the Senate of the Congress, Austin said that reducing the military advantage of the United States over the Russian Federation and China poses a serious danger. He emphasized that the Pentagon should stop this process and promised that, as the head of the American military department , it will prevent China from achieving an advantage in this area.
On the same day, Austin, if approved for the post of Secretary of Defense, intends to conduct a “review” of the presence of US forces in the Middle East, including against the backdrop of challenges from Russia and China.
In late November, it became known that President-elect of the United States Joe Biden is considering the former head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Lloyd Austin as one of the candidates for the post of the country’s defense secretary.