On Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stated that the United States is not in a position to collaborate militarily with Russia at this time. Mattis made the statement just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his interest in the two nations restoring communications between their intelligence agencies. Secretary Mattis made his stance very clear, stating that Russia must “prove itself” before America can trust they can be a true ally in the fight against ISIS.
During a press conference after the Defense Ministerial meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary Mattis addressed the fact that one of the new threats the allies are faced with are the growing threats from Russia who continue to violate international law.
Mattis said that Russia must “live by international law just like we expect all mature nations on this planet to do.”
The United States and Russia “are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level,” he added, “but our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground or a way forward where Russia, living up to its commitments, will return to a partnership of sorts here with NATO.”
Mattis said that Russia would have to prove itself by living up to all of the Russia-NATO agreement commitments. The alliance between NATO and Russia is governed by the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, agreed upon by the two entities in 1997 then reaffirmed in 2002 and 2010.
According to the Defense Department, the act says that “NATO will carry out its collective defense and other missions and may reinforce infrastructure against a threat of aggression and for exercises.”
It also states that Russia “will exercise similar restraint in its conventional force deployments in Europe.”
At the end of the conference, Mattis reassured the Unites States’ commitment to NATO.
“I see here in Brussels a quickened purpose in this alliance and a profound determination to stand together and honor our commitments to each other,” Mattis said. “I have confidence that we will sustain the legacy we’ve inherited and do what is necessary to defend our freedom.”