(CNSNews.com) - Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the next Supreme Allied Commander/Europe and head of the United States European Command, told Congress on Thursday he agrees with other military leaders that Russia is the greatest threat to America.
He also indicated that he would send a message to Russia to stop buzzing U.S. ships and planes.
"What should be our response to this gross violation of international law?" Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Scaparrotti:
"Chairman, I beieve that from a military perspective, we should sail and fly wherever we are allowed to by international law, and we should be strong, clear and consistent in our message in that regard," Scaparrotti replied.
"This may sound a little tough," McCain told him, "but should we make an announcement to the Russians, that if they place the lives of our men and women on board Navy ships in danger, that we will take appropriate action?"
"Sir, I believe that should be known, yes," Scaparrotti said.
In his opening statement to the committee, McCain criticized Russia's "aggressive and dangerous behavior" toward a U.S. Navy destroyer and a surveillance plane last week.
Russian jets simulated attacks within 30 feet of the Navy destroyer as it sailed in international waters in the Baltic Sea. A few days later, Russian jets came within 50 feet of a U.S. plane in international airspace.
In a statement to the committee, Scaparrotti also said he believes that putting an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean "would send a strategic message, not only to the Russians but also to ISIS, and Iran and its proxies.
"An aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean could support CENTCOM and AFRICOM as well as EUCOM. I understand that there are competing global requirements for aircraft carriers, and if confirmed, I will work with the Joint Staff for the appropriate sourcing solutions."