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USAF Secretary: Russia is biggest security threat to the U.S.

She spoke after urging an increase in defense spending by other NATO countries.

By Ed Adamczyk
USAF Secretary: Russia is biggest security threat to the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of the United States Air Force Deborah Lee James at the opening of the U.S. International Pavillion during the start of the 51st International Paris Air Show on June 15, 2015. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Secretary of the Air Force said she regards Russia as the primary threat to U.S. security.

Deborah Lee James spoke in Washington Wednesday after meeting with European allies, urging them to commit at least two percent of their gross domestic products to defense spending. Only five of NATO's 28 members – the United States, Greece, Estonia and most recently, the United Kingdom and Poland -- are at that benchmark.

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Six other NATO countries are reducing their defense budgets, and in June NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted, "We need to redouble our efforts to reverse this trend. We are facing more challenges, and we cannot do more with less indefinitely."

The United States is responsible for about 75 percent of all NATO military spending, and for years U.S. leaders have urged other nations to increase their contributions.

Russia is seen as an increasingly hostile and destabilizing force in Europe, prompting James' tour of European capitals. It annexed Crimea and is involved in a rebellion in Ukraine; Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to upgrade the country's intercontinental ballistic missile program and a series of encounters between Russian military aircraft and NATO aircraft have recently been reported.

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James acknowledged European economies face difficulties at the present time, most prominently the destabilization of the Euro because of Greece'as financial crisis.

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