OREANDA-NEWS. The main challenges for the United States are China and Russia, the head of the US Defense Department, Mark Esper, said on September 16 at the American nonprofit global policy think tank RAND.

According to the politician, for the past 20 years, the United States has fought against extremists and was engaged in “low intensity conflicts,” distracting from more powerful opponents. However, Esper recalled, in 2018, the Pentagon developed a national security strategy stating the onset of a period of “great power competition,” so Washington needs to respond to challenges and adapt to a more complex security environment.

“Today, in this era of great power competition, the Department of Defense has prioritized China then Russia, as our top strategic competitors,” Esper added. The Pentagon chief noted that both Russia and China modernized their armed forces.

At the same time, US Defense Secretary accused Moscow of “blatant disregard for international norms and rules,” blaming the Russian Federation for the situation in Ukraine.