Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Saturday slammed Russia, saying it is endangering the world order through its incursions in Ukraine and loose talk about nuclear weapons, and said the U.S. defense establishment is searching for ways to deter Russian aggression to protect U.S. allies.
Carter, speaking to the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, also expressed concern about China’s expanding influence and growing military might. National security experts and defense officials attended a gathering at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Carter said Russia is undertaking “challenging activities” at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace.
“Most disturbing, Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons,” he said.
His remarks were perhaps the strongest he has expressed about America’s former Cold War foe.
“We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia,” he said. “We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all.”
Carter’s comments come as Russia begins to assert itself in the war against the Islamic State in Syria and as China tries to assert its dominance off its own shores.
Read More: Carter sees Russia, China as potential threats to global order | Fox News