U.S. intelligence leaders warned Tuesday that Russia and China are becoming increasingly aligned as the two nations seek to compete against the U.S. and its allies.
"Moscow's relationship with Beijing is closer than it has been in many decades," Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE told lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee durning the panel's "Worldwide Threat" hearing.
Coats helped unveil the latest U.S. Worldwide Threat Assessment, a U.S. intelligence report warning that while Moscow and Beijing are growing closer, some U.S. allies are beginning to build stronger relationships elsewhere.
"At the same time, some US allies and partners are seeking greater independence from Washington in response to their perceptions of changing US policies on security and trade and are becoming more open to new bilateral and multilateral partnerships," the report states.
The intelligence assessment says Russia and China are seeking to assert their dominance over the international system by growing stronger "across all domains," including racing for "technological and military superiority."
"China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge, particularly regarding perceived U.S. unilateralism and interventionism and Western promotion of democratic values and human rights," the assessment reads.
"Russia and China seek to shape the international system and regional security dynamics and exert influence over the politics and economies of states in all regions of the world and especially in their respective backyards," it adds.
The assessment also warns that the Kremlin is becoming more involved in the Middle East and East Asia in an attempt to expand its reach globally, "eroding once well-established security norms and increasing the risk of regional conflicts."
While intelligence officials have warned about Russia's and China's efforts to gain power abroad, they also said the two countries will likely seek to target U.S. elections in 2020.
Coats, speaking on behalf of other intelligence officials, told the Senate panel that U.S. adversaries like Russia and China “probably already are looking to the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests.”
“U.S. adversaries and strategic competitors almost certainly will use online influence operations to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine U.S. alliances and partnerships, and shape policy outcomes in the United States and elsewhere,” Coats said.