The United States should build good working relations with both Russia and China, Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, has told reporters.
“We have to get our relationships with China right. We can’t get our relationships with Russia wrong,” he said. Walsh described China as the United States’ “competitor in the Pacific.” The general explained that he took into account, first and foremost, the way China’s economy is growing. “The Russians, on the other hand, smaller economy,” he added.
He went on to say that Washington is concerned about Russia’s recent actions, above all, those affecting such former Soviet republics as Ukraine and Georgia, as well as European and Baltic countries. “I think all those kind of add up into what are the intentions of the Russians, are they aligned with our intentions?” he said, adding that was the reason why “the Secretary of Defense (Ashton Carter) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Joseph Dunford) have been very clear in their testimony that they saw Russia as the number one threat today.”
He noted that Moscow and Washington should heed each other’s arguments in the bilateral and multilateral dialogue. “I think that’s exactly right. The more we talk, the more we engage, potentially even in Syria, operating may help us work together trying to solve some of these differences… in relationships… Politically is the answer, diplomatically is the answer to bring the two sides together to be able to find common ground so we can work together in the future, Walsh said.
He pointed out that he saw Moscow’s actions through the prism of developments in Ukraine and Syria and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. “It’s important we don’t misunderstand Russia’s intentions and their military capabilities,” Walsh said.
He added that although Russia and China “pose some similar defense challenges, they are otherwise very different nations and situations.” “We can’t afford to get either of these relationships wrong,” he said.