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A senior Pentagon official warned countries in the Middle East against aligning with Russia or China regarding security cooperation, stressing that the Middle East has much more to gain by their alignment with the United States instead.
On Tuesday, a senior Pentagon official warned that Middle Eastern countries that test waters of deeper security cooperation with China or Russia put at risk their partnerships with the United States.
“It’s... clear that certain countries and partners would want to hedge and test what more they might be able to get from the United States by testing the waters of deeper cooperation with the Chinese or the Russians, particularly in the security and military space,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dana Stroul said during a webinar at the Middle East Institute.
Stroul claimed that the potential benefits of cooperation with Russia and China pale compared to what the United States can offer in terms of security cooperation.
“To me, the choice is clear between what you can get from China or Russia and what you can get from the United States,” she said. Stroul accused Russia of nurturing intentions to challenge the United States in the Middle East and stress its strategic regional partnerships.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he wouldn't lose any sleep over criticism of U.S. military forces from America's adversaries, like China and Russia. "I will not lose one minute of sleep about what the Chinese leadership is saying, or what (Russian President) Vladimir Putin is saying. What I will focus on, and what I am focused on, is the defense of this nation and making sure that we have what's needed to be successful," he said.
Austin made the remarks in a Memorial Day interview aired on Monday. He also said that the U.S. military would never be "soft," dismissing statements by some conservative politicians and media figures that the U.S. military is weakening.
The Pentagon has asked for a $715 billion budget, saying it is geared to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region by shedding older weapons systems and investing in new technologies.
The budget plan would also provide $5.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which Congress created to counter China, focusing on competition in the Indo-Pacific. It aims to boost U.S. readiness in the region through funding radars, satellites, and missile systems.