WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama's nominee to become NATO's supreme allied commander said on Thursday the so-called reset in US ties with Russia was now on pause and predicted that Moscow would be the "primary actor of regional concern" through 2020.
Relations between the former Cold War foes, badly damaged by Russia's 2008 war with pro-Western Georgia, had improved during Obama's first term and Obama signed a nuclear arms treaty with then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.
But ties have soured since Vladimir Putin returned to Russia's presidency in May, and Washington and Moscow have been at odds over issues ranging from Syria to human rights.
Eight former US and Russian ambassadors urged swift action to improve relations in a joint statement released on April 2, noting a growing trend toward issues that divide the two nations.
US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, in written testimony, said Russia remained an aspirational superpower but noted that it remained hindered by what he called "endemic deficiencies."
"Russia will remain the primary actor of regional concern through 2020 by virtue of its geographic position, natural resource wealth, military forces, and desire for regional influence," Breedlove said.