State Dept, Pentagon Split on Claims of Russia as ‘Existential Threat’

Kerry Rejects Marine Commandant's Claims About Russia

The State Department today issued a statement publicly disputing comments by Marine Commandant and Joint Chiefs of Staff nominee General Joe Dunford, who yesterday declared Russia an “existential threat” to the United States.

“The secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly,” spokesman Mark Toner insisted during the daily State Department press briefing. He went on to say that the US and Russia have “disagreements” but that isn’t the same thing.

Gen. Dunford made the claims in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, labeling Russia an existential threat because of “recent actions” in Ukraine. He went on to list the top threats as Russia, China, North Korea, and ISIS “in that order.”

While officials often rail on about “Russian aggression” because they are backing opposite sides in the Ukrainian Civil War, it is noteworthy that the State Department still felt it worth disputing the presumptive new military chief’s assessment of them, and may suggest a significant split on US policy toward the Russians.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of