Mattis Rules Out Military Collaboration with Russia
February 16, 2017
United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Thursday ruled out any
military collaboration between the US and Russia, saying that the
conditions just aren't correct "right now."
"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,"
Mattis said during a news conference at the NATO headquarters in
Before military cooperation takes place, Russia must "prove itself" able
to comply with international law, Mattis said.
Mattis' comments come after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said
Moscow is "ready to restore cooperation with the Pentagon."
President Donald Trump praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin during his
campaign and since he's been in office, and expressed interest in
restarting cooperation between the two countries. The United States
halted military cooperation with Russia in 2014 after Russia annexed
Crimea from Ukraine.
Trump has, in the past, said he would like to cooperate with Moscow in
the fight against Islamic State.
Mattis, speaking at a meeting of NATO's counter-IS coalition, said he
didn't think the fight against IS would end quickly, but added the
United States would like to speed up the multinational campaign against
When asked about the option of sending U.S. ground troops into Syria,
Mattis said he hadn't yet had enough time in office to form a plan and
he wants to confer with allies before moving forward.
“Once I get current…we’ll carve out where we want to go and at that
point I can give you a much more steady answer. Right now I would be
concerned with giving you kind of a half-baked one,” he said.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford is set to meet
with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valeriy Gerasimov, in Azerbaijan
later Thursday to discuss the status of current U.S.-Russia military
Dealing with cyber-attacks
On the second day of the NATO ministers meeting Thursday in Brussels,
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said they will discuss ways to
combat increasingly common cyber-attacks against governments.
"Today, we will take further steps to bolster our defense. We will
review progress on the deployment of our four multinational battle
groups in the eastern part of the alliance. We will also address how to
better counter cyber-attacks, which are becoming more frequent and
complex, and we will discuss the threat from hybrid warfare and how to
make our societies more resilient. So we will continue to adapt our
alliance to keep our nations safe," Stoltenberg said.
Mattis expressed confidence in NATO's ability to deal with the threat
from cyber-attacks, and said his colleagues responded well to his
message the previous day about sharing the financial burden in defense
"We thoroughly discussed the increased threats facing our alliance, and
unified by the threats to our democracies I found strong alliance
resolve to address these growing threats," he said.
Trump and Mattis have strongly urged other NATO nations to shoulder the
financial burden of the organization.
In July, then-presidential candidate Trump caused shudders across Europe
when he suggested the United States might not defend NATO allies who did
not spend their share on defense.
On Wednesday, Mattis warned NATO ministers Washington would "moderate
its commitment" to the alliance if allies do not commit a minimum of two
percent of their GDP to their defense budgets.
will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see
America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals
needs to show its support for our common defense," Mattis reportedly
told the ministers Wednesday during a closed-door meeting.
Mattis did not say how Washington might alter its commitments to the
Among the five NATO members that meet the commitment are Greece, which
pays nearly 2.5 percent, and Poland, Estonia and Britain pay just above
the expected two percent. On the other end of the spectrum, Germany
falls below at 1.19 percent and most, including Canada, Italy, and
Spain, also fall below the mark. France pays just below two percent.
The United States pays more than 3.6 percent.