Russia’s involvement in both Syria and Ukraine has made the U.S. rework its defense budget for the next fiscal year, according to Bloomberg. The budgets of all four military branches will be affected, the Pentagon’s comptroller said.
“The thing that we have the most thinking to do about in this budget compared to any other previous budgets is Russia,” said Michael McCord, emphasizing that different service branches were evaluating investments and their posture toward Russia.
Although McCord did not provide Bloomberg with specifics, he mentioned Russia’s role in cyberwarfare as being one of the primary concerns. The U.S. has faced cyberchallenges from Russia and China this year, causing government officials to speak more publicly on the topic.
Russia’s role in both Ukraine and Syria has increased concerns in Washington. In July, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia posed the greatest threat to the U.S.
“If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” said Dunford. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”
Russia unilaterally annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The Ukrainian government has said Russian troops and generals have been directing the conflict in the country’s eastern Donbass region. Russia continues to deny any direct military involvement in Ukraine, saying that "volunteers" fighting in Ukraine were there on their own volition. More than 1.4 million people have been displaced by the conflict and nearly 7,000 have died, according to figures from the United Nations.
In recent days, Russia’s continued aid to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian military advisers on the ground in Syria have also drawn concern from Washington.
The U.S. budget proposals are currently under review and are scheduled to be released in February. The budget request for 2017 is expected to be about $13 billion more than in 2016 for a total of $547.3 billion.