“Russia remains the largest security challenge for us in the near future,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

According to Esper, China could be an even bigger challenge for the US in the long run.

The head of the Pentagon expressed the opinion that the military methods of Russia are a constant threat to European partners of the United States, especially to the former Soviet republics.

Esper previously stated that Russia should behave "as a more normal country that shares Western values."

Russian Foreign and Defense Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu commented on Esper’s words.