The U.S. defense secretary strongly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of deceit involving a key Cold War-era arms control treaty, and acting recklessly in last week's naval confrontation with Ukraine.
In his address to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute yesterday Mattis also said that the USA seeks a constructive, results-oriented relationship with Beijing.
Russia said the Ukrainian ships had breached the Russian border and conducted unsafe movements in spite of Russia's orders.
He also praised Trump's decision to increase USA troop levels in Afghanistan last year, and said that "for the first time in 17 years, the United Nations believes we have hope for peace". "There is no doubt the relationship has worsened".
"(Putin) tried again to muck around in our elections this last month.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said Saturday that Russian Federation attempted to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections last month. Mattis portrayed the latest incident as evidence that the administration's defense strategy, announced almost a year ago, was correct in refocusing from the post-9/11 wars to what Mattis has called an emergence of "great power" competition with Russian Federation and China.
Mattis did not make reference to President Donald Trump's recent announcement that the United States would be withdrawing from the treaty. Asked how the USA can deter further Russian confrontation, the former Marine general placed the blame for worsening relations all on the Russian president.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday of being a "slow learner" who again tried to meddle in U.S. elections in November, adding that he had no trust in the Russian leader. He is not recognizing that what he is doing is actually creating an animosity against his people, "said Mattis". "He's not acting in the best interests of the Russian people, and he is actually causing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to rearm and to strengthen the democracies' stance, the unified stance of all the democracies together".