A Pentagon report released Wednesday warns of a rising military threat from Russia and says the Kremlin believes the United States is seeking regime change, an assertion that could color the already fraught relationship between the two powers.
The Defense Intelligence Agency’s 116-page report , “Russia Military Power: Building a Military to Support Great Power Aspirations,” sketches a picture of a Russia that sees itself in opposition to the United States and with a leadership that harbors a strong desire to make the country again the prominent power it was during the Cold War era.
“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia,” the report says. Moscow started worrying about Washington’s hand in regime change during the so-called Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe in the early 2000s. Russia also sees the United States as responsible for the Arab Spring revolutions of 2010 and 2011, and the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
The report comes at a time when the US government is torn on how to handle the rising threat from Russia. While President Donald Trump has sung the praises of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and while he is reportedly preparing concessions to make to Moscow before his first meeting with Putin, Congress has chosen a different and much tougher tack.
The Senate recently passed legislation that would slap new sanctions on the Kremlin and make it harder for the White House to roll back sanctions on its own.
The intelligence community, judging by the report, sees less optimism for improved relations. “Moscow worries that US attempts to dictate a set of acceptable international norms threatens the foundations of Kremlin power by giving license for foreign meddling in Russia’s internal affairs,” the report says.