The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says Russia is "each and every day" undermining the credibility of the U.S. commitment to NATO and its ability to respond to the alliance.
"Since World War II, the strategic source of strength for the United States is the network of allies and partners we have built up," Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine Corps General, told the House Appropriations Committee on June 15.
"What Russia really is going about doing each and every day is undermining the credibility of our alliance commitment to NATO and our ability to respond to NATO," he said.
"That’s what they’re doing. That's the most insidious thing that Russia is doing," said Dunford, who was testifying alongside Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
In addition to efforts to disrupt U.S. alliances, he said, the Russians possess nuclear weapons "in the thousands that can destroy our nation" and has significant cybercapabilities that they have been using on a regular basis.
To fight these efforts, Dunford pointed to the U.S. European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) -- a program initiated in 2014 by the White House to increase the U.S. presence in Europe for security purposes -- to which the United States has allocated $4.8 billion this year, giving it three brigade combat teams and additional pre-deployed equipment in Europe.
"It assures our allies that we actually are committed, and it deters Russia because they know we have the ability to respond," he said.
In terms of capabilities and behavior, Dunford said, given what Russia has done in Ukraine recently and Georgia in the past, "of all the nations in the world that could pose an existential threat to our nation…it would be Russia."