A war between Russia and Western countries like the U.S. would be an entirely different form of war compared to Moscow’s war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, after a U.S. report suggested Washington should prepare for simultaneous wars with Russia and China.
“We act on the assumption that we want peace, but if they want to go to war with Russia, then it’s a completely different war, not something like conducting a special military operation,” Putin said during a Russian state media broadcast on Sunday. Moscow uses the term “special military operation” to refer to its war in Ukraine.
His remarks come after a report released on Friday from the U.S. Strategic Posture Commission said the White House should increase spending on both its conventional and nuclear forces to address the twin threats posed by Russia and China.
Washington will soon find itself in a “fundamentally different global setting than it has ever experienced,” and one in which Russia and China will “possess nuclear arsenals on par with our own,” the report said.
Moscow has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and China has funneled resources into beefing up its nuclear arsenal, including its new Type 096 ballistic missile submarine.
“In addition, the risk of conflict with these two nuclear peers is increasing,” the report said.
Relations have reached their worst point in years between the U.S. and Russia over the war in Ukraine.
The U.S. and other Western countries supporting Ukraine’s war effort against Russia have been careful to frame their military aid and support packages for Kyiv as assistance, not involvement in the war.
But in mid-September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S is “waging a war” against Russia “no matter what they say.” A Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek when asked about Lavrov’s comments at the time that “the U.S. is not at war with Russia, nor do we seek a war between NATO and Russia.”
Ties between Washington and Beijing have also become more strained over China’s refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, and due to fears about China’s plans for Taiwan.
The U.S. does not have formal ties with Taiwan, which has its own democratically elected government, but says it has a “robust unofficial relationship” with Taipei. Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway island to be brought back under central control.
“China is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it,” U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said in May 2022.
China “is the most serious long-term challenge to the international order,” he added.
Although the possibility of a “major nuclear conflict” remains remote, the “risk of military conflict with either or both Russia and China, while not inevitable, has grown, and with it the risk of nuclear use, possibly against the U.S. homeland,” added the U.S. report, which was released on Thursday.
“The United States must change course urgently and resolutely,” the report’s authors wrote in its concluding section.