Mattis: Putin tried to ‘muck around’ in US midterm elections

The Russian President Vladimir Putin

Mattis said the relationship between the United States and Russian Federation has "no doubt" worsened amid Russia's continued efforts to intervene in the USA electoral process.

The originally scheduled meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit was cancelled with the White House citing the Russian-Ukrainian animosity as the reason.

That comment reiterated those he made several days prior that Russia's attack upon and seizure of three Ukrainian ships violated global law. "We are seeing a continued effort around those lines".

"We are going to stand with the 41 nations, largest wartime coalition in history, who are still committed to this effort", Mattis said at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the canceled Trump-Putin meeting a missed opportunity, saying it didn't "help settling a number of important worldwide problems".

It was the first open military confrontation between the rivals since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and pro-Russian separatists in the east entered into conflict with Ukrainian forces. Asked how the USA can deter further Russian confrontation, the former Marine general placed the blame for worsening relations all on the Russian president.

"What we see, what Putin is doing, not observing worldwide agreements... we are dealing with someone who we just can't trust", - said Mattis, calling Putin a "slow learner" (translated from English. - bad student, tokodai, obtuse).

Mattis described the Russian leader as "someone we simply can not trust". "He is not acting in the best interest of the Russian people".

Mattis did not mention directly the administration's intention to withdraw from the treaty, saying instead, "We will re-energize our arms control efforts, but the onus is on Russian Federation".

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