Russia and China are cooperating more than ever before, but their moves are leaving U.S. leaders wondering about the purpose of such cooperation and worried about the end game scenario.
The two countries are holding large-scale joint military training exercises in the Pacific. They have been in the Sea of Japan for a few weeks, according to The Free Beacon. The operation includes 22 warships, 20 aircraft, submarines, and more than 500 marines.
This is the second time they have done such a maneuver – Russia and China performed similar exercises last April in the Mediterranean Sea.
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was open with journalists about the exercises when the plans were first announced in 2014. Shoigu said both countries are troubled about the United States attempting to strengthen its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We also expressed concern over U.S. attempts to strengthen its military and political clout in the APR,” he said. “We believe that the main goal of pooling our effort is to shape a collective regional security system.”
The problem, according to U.S. leaders like former Congressman Allen West, is that the U.S. is not increasing its presence in the Pacific or anywhere else. It is shrinking its military. The downsizing of the Navy is dangerous, West said in a 2014 blog.
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“Those who have served in the military and have studied military history know a nation’s power is projected not by its army — but rather by its navy,” West wrote. “The Roman fleet, the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, British and Japanese all knew the power of a navy and its ability to project national presence — as well as secure the sea lanes of commerce for trade and economic growth.”
The Pentagon announced in 2014 that it had plans to shrink the United States Army to pre-World War II levels, citing budget cuts and the ending of costly wars. Military officials were not pleased, stating the move left America unprepared if there were ever a need to carry out two large-scale military operations simultaneously.
In raw numbers, the reduction of the Army will be about 13 percent, declining from today’s number of 520,000 soldiers to around 440,000 fighting men and women. Sequestration could reduce that number to as low as 420,000. The Marines could also see a reduction. Some of the cuts will come from retiring aircraft and up to half of the Navy cruiser fleet.
Russia and China are cooperating in other ways that also threaten U.S. security and interests. The latest is that both countries are reportedly reviewing hacked data in an attempt to identify U.S. spies and government operatives, according to the Los Angeles Times. Both Russia and China have been blamed for cyber attacks on the U.S. in the past. The White House has not formally blamed either country in the latest cyber hack.
The two countries also made an energy pact where Russia supplies China with its energy needs, and both countries agreed on Russia’s invasion into the Ukraine.
With such cooperation on so many levels, many U.S. officials say the alliance could cause security problems for the United States. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said aggressive and collaborative actions from Russia and China are leading to global instability and jeopardizing U.S. interests.
“Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces,” Dempsey said.
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Still, others say the United States will remain strong in its power.
“I think the energy deal between Russia and China does represent geopolitical pushback against the United States, but the hegemonic impulses behind Russia’s annexation of Crimea and China’s aggressive claims to disputed islands and airspace are pushing their smaller neighbors to embrace the United States,” said Thomas Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to Russia. “That’s why I still think the United States’ geostrategic position remains strong relative to Russia and China.”
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