China and Russia biggest long-term challenges for the US, defense secretary says | Squawk Box Asia
Mark Esper: China and Russia have far fewer allies than the United States
The head of the Pentagon stressed the importance of strengthening military alliances and military modernization of the country against the background of the strengthening of the aggressive policy of Moscow and Beijing
On the eve of the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers, which will be held online on October 22-23, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that Washington plans to actively develop partnerships with allies, including for confronting Russia and China..
“America’s network of allies and partners gives us an asymmetric advantage that our adversaries cannot surpass,” the US Secretary of Defense said Tuesday, October 20, speaking at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington. “In fact, China and Russia together probably have less than 10 allies.”.
At the same time, he stressed, Washington’s allied relations are based on the observance of international order, while “China and Russia are rapidly modernizing their armed forces and using their growing power in order to ignore international law, violate the sovereignty of small states and shift the balance of power in your benefit “.
“We are again facing a revanchist Russia, which, I think, none of us expected. At the same time, we know that over the past two to three decades, China has slowly, carefully, discreetly built up its military capabilities, built its economy, and also acted in a way to challenge the rules-based international order. So, allies are now more important than ever, “said Mark Esper, adding that the US is interested in strengthening allied ties both in Europe and the Pacific..
“This competition between the great powers is global in nature. We see that Russia and China operate in North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, the Arctic and Antarctic, “he added..
According to the 2018 US National Defense Strategy, Russia and China are viewed by Washington as the most serious threats to the security of the country and its allies in the “era of great power competition.” Also, such “rogue states” as North Korea and Iran and a number of extremist organizations pose a threat to US security, Esper said..
In addition to strengthening relations with allies, the US Department of Defense prioritizes increasing the country’s military readiness and strategic allocation of resources..
Thus, the upcoming withdrawal of part of American troops from Germany, announced by Washington this summer, reflects precisely a more optimal distribution of forces in the new geopolitical realities, the Defense Minister noted. The redeployment of American forces in Europe is being carried out, among other things, in order to contain a potential threat from Russia in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.
“We need to move a little further east,” the US Secretary of Defense said. “It will help us deal with the problems of time and distance if the Russians take some really aggressive action. So this repositioning is strategic. “.
Mark Esper also spoke about a number of his meetings and consultations with Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic countries. After the signing in August of this year of an agreement on defense cooperation between the United States and Poland, as Esper noted, there was another possibility of deploying part of American troops in the Eastern European region on a long-term basis, and not on a rotational basis, as it has been so far..
The US plans to increase investment in the development of advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence, which Russia and China are also doing, Esper said. At the same time, Washington needs to improve American missile defenses to defend against the latest weapons. The United States must also respond to the growing militarization of outer space by Moscow and Beijing, he added..
Washington also plans to increase sales of American weapons on the world market in order to strengthen “its economic security and at the same time improve the military capabilities of its foreign allies,” the US Secretary of Defense said..
At the upcoming meeting of NATO defense ministers, Washington will continue to insist that all NATO members commit the organization’s statutory 2% of their GDP to the national military budget, Esper added. According to him, despite the fact that since 2016 NATO allies have increased spending by $ 130 billion in total and by 2024 this figure will exceed $ 400 billion, only 9 members of the alliance today are fulfilling their financial obligations to NATO in full..
“We are aware of the challenges and costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic, but our threats have not diminished today. Rather, they have only worsened as countries focus on domestic issues for recovery, while our competitors seek to exploit this global crisis. Therefore, we call on all countries of the alliance to fulfill their obligations and make a greater contribution to our collective security, “- said the US Secretary of Defense.
Journalist «Voices of America». Prior to that, she worked for international non-governmental organizations in Washington and London, in the Russian-language version of the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” and as a spokesman for the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Interests – international relations, politics, economics
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