Russia is the biggest threat to US national security and America must boost its military presence throughout Europe even as Nato allies face budget challenges and scale back spending, the US air force secretary, Deborah James, said on Wednesday. “I do consider Russia to be the biggest threat,” James said in an interview after a series of visits and meetings with US allies across Europe, including Poland.

James said Washington was responding to Russia’s recent “worrisome” actions by boosting its presence across Europe, and would continue rotational assignments of F-16 fighter squadrons. “This is no time to in any way signal a lack of resolve in the face of these Russian actions,” she said. James said she was disappointed that only four of Nato’s 28 members had thus far met the Nato target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense. “This is not something that came up out of thin air. This is something that we as NATO members agreed to do. All of us need to be advocates,” she said. MORE