In an interview with Fox News on Saturday, Defense Secretary James Mattis called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “slow learner” and claimed that the Russians had tried to interfere with the midterms last month.
According to TheBlaze, Mattis was speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, where the defense secretary reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to countering the Russians on issues of election interference.
Mentioning the fact that former President George H.W. Bush had died the previous day — the last Cold War president — Fox News’ Bret Baier mentioned the problems with Russia — including Moscow’s decision to fire on Ukrainian ships last week and take their sailors prisoner. He asked Mattis what America could do “to deter Russia’s behavior in this environment.”
“This is a very complex situation because Mr. Putin is clearly a slow learner,” Mattis said.
“He is not recognizing that what he is doing is actually creating the animosity against his people. He’s not acting in the best interest of the Russian people, and he is actually causing NATO to re-arm and to strengthen the democracies’ stance, the unified stance of all the democracies together…
“We are dealing with someone that we simply cannot trust.”
“Has the relationship worsened since you’ve been defense secretary?” Baier asked.
“There’s no doubt the relationship has worsened,” Mattis said.
“He (Putin) tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we’re seeing a continued effort along those lines.”
Mattis added that “Russia doesn’t speak with one voice.”
“We find that Russia, (on the) surface, tries to make certain very deceitful statements stick. They don’t stick. Their actions speak louder than words and it has worsened the relationship.”
When asked if there was a greater threat of cyber warfare, Mattis responded, “I don’t know that the threat is increased, it is continued efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended.”
Would that include offensive maneuvers?
“We’ll do whatever is necessary to defend them,” Mattis said.
That’s a pretty strong commitment, particularly given what’s going on in the Ukraine right now.
What it comes to remains to be seen, but it could mean Vladimir Putin might have to learn a bit quicker.
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