United States Secretary of Defense and retired U.S. General James Mattis apparently broke with his boss, President Trump, while speaking Thursday to the question of how the nations that are members of NATO ought to view and deal with Russia.
Whereas Trump’s attitude towards Russia continues to be one of nonchalant dismissal of the nation’s aggression, Mattis, while speaking at NATO headquarters called out Russia for its history of interfering in democratic elections around the world.
“What does Russia need to stop doing for the United States to work with it… can you trust the Russians?” an individual in the crowd assembled Thursday at NATO headquarters asked Mattis.
‘I think the point about Russia is that they have to live by international law, just like we expect of all mature nations on this planet… we will engage politically… we are not in a position right now to elaborate on a military level… Russia is going to have to prove itself first and live up to the commitments of the Russia/ NATO agreement.’
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was originally founded to counter the aggression of the Soviet Union. However, as the tensions of the Cold War era fizzled out, the Soviet Union and its successor state, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, agreed to cooperation with NATO in important issues of global security.
However, Russia has increasingly shifted more towards the politics of the Soviet Union, with Vladimir Putin ruling over the nation like a dictator for the past decade. Putin, mind you, was a key figure of the Soviet government, heading the state secret police for a time.
The Thursday afternoon questioning went on, with a member of the audience asking Mattis if he believed that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election.
The Defense Secretary replied, “There is very little doubt that they have either interfered or attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.”
Indeed, although Mattis’ statement there is professionally non-confrontational, he implicitly acknowledges the existence of the mountains of evidence against Russia implicating them in the 2016 cyberattacks on the Democratic Party.