Mattis Rebuffs Putin, Says Russia Must ‘Prove Itself’

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to get his hands on intelligence gathered by the United States in its efforts to fight terrorism.

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday politely, but firmly, declined.

“We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level, but our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground or a way forward so that Russia, living up to its commitment, can return to a partnership of sorts here with NATO,” Mattis said while attending NATO meetings in Brussels.

 

“The point about Russia is they have to live by international law just like we expect all mature nations on this planet to do,” Mattis continued.

“Russia is going to have to prove itself first,” he added.

On Thursday, Mattis was asked about Russian interference in the U.S. elections.

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There is “very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies,” Mattis replied, without specifically naming the nations in which Russia interfered.

Putin on Thursday said sharing would help both nations.

‘It’s in the general interest to establish a dialogue with the special services of the United States and other member countries of NATO,” Putin told leaders of Russia’s Federal Security Service. “We need to establish cooperation at a new level in the antiterrorist sphere with foreign partners.”

“Even a simple exchange of information about the channels and sources of terrorists, about people implicated in or suspected of terrorism seriously raises the effectiveness of our joint efforts,” Putin said.

 

Although Putin spoke about a new era of collaboration, he was also loath to leave behind the decades-old rhetoric of confrontation, as he told Russian officials that NATO “is constantly provoking us and trying to draw us into confrontation.”

One piece of collaboration did take place Thursday. Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met Thursday with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s top military officer, in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku. It was the first face-to-face meeting of top military leaders since 2014.

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