Newly nominated Defense Secretary James Mattis apparently forgot to drink President Donald’s Trump‘s Russian tea.
While answering questions at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Mattis, ruled out “military cooperation with Russia until it can ‘prove itself’ capable of complying with international law,” writes Vox.
It’s a dramatic departure from Trump, who has talked for over a year about joining forces with Russia to fight ISIS, but Mattis had this to say Thursday, notes the news outlet:
They have to live by international law, just like we expect all mature nations on this planet to do. What we will do is engage politically. 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, where Russia is living up to its commitments. … Russia is going to have to prove itself first, and live up to the commitments they have made in the Russia-NATO agreement.
On another key issue, Mattis said Thursday that there is very “‘little doubt’ that Russia either interfered or attempted to interfere in a number of elections in democracies,” writes The Hill.
While Trump has waffled on whether Russia carried out cyberattacks against the two major political parties during the presidential election, The New York Times writes that last month he conceded for the first time that Russian operatives carried out the attacks.
But Mattis’ comments come at a precarious time for the Trump administration, which is still reeling from the forced resignation of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Flynn came under fire for communicating with the Russian ambassador and discussing sanctions, “reportedly without the Trump administration’s permission,” notes Vox.
The news outlet notes that Mattis, like Flynn, appears to be “freelancing the administration’s Russia policy, but he’s doing it publicly rather than hiding it and then subsequently lying about it. Trump just doesn’t seem to have a lot of control over what his deputies do when it comes to Russia.”
What do you think about Mattis’ refusal to drink Trump’s weak Russian tea? Sound off in comments.