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Mattis says Putin tried to "muck around" in November's midterm elections

03 December 2018

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday revealed that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin attempted to meddle in America's 2018 midterm elections.

Asked if U.S. -Russian ties had become more strained since he took over the Pentagon past year after Trump became president, Mattis said, "There's no doubt the relationship has worsened".

Referring to last week's naval confrontation near the Crimean peninsula, in which Russian ships seized three Ukrainian ships and two dozen Ukrainian sailors, Mattis criticized what he called Russia's "brazen" violation of a treaty with Ukraine.

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"What we are seeing Putin do with his ripping up of worldwide agreements. we're dealing with someone that we simply can not trust", the Pentagon chief added. 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".

"What we witnessed this weekend is yet another reckless Russian escalation" of what began with Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its ongoing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, said outgoing U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley in response to the actions. It also has prompted global concern and renewed Western criticism of Russian Federation. Asked how the USA can deter further Russian confrontation, the former Marine general placed the blame for worsening relations all on the Russian president.

"Mr. Putin is clearly a slow learner". "He is not recognizing that what he is doing is actually creating the animosity against his people. He is not acting in the best interest of the Russian people".

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"We'll do whatever is necessary to defend them".

The U.S. defense chief also made passing reference to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, a 1987 agreement known as the INF, that Washington has accused Moscow of violating.

The remarks by Mattis at a security forum in California came a day after President Donald Trump held informal talks with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 industrialized nations meeting in Argentina. Moscow denies any violation.

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Mattis says Putin tried to