The US Will Not Collaborate With Russia, At Least Not Yet

The US is interested in discussing collaboration with Russia in the fight against ISIS, but Russia must prove that it will operate within international norms “and live up to the commitments” it has made with NATO, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday. “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, living up to its commitments, will return to a partnership of sorts here with NATO,” he said. Asked specifically if Russia had interfered in the US presidential election last fall, Mattis said, “there’s very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.” Mattis spoke Thursday during his first visit to NATO in Brussels, where he sought to assuage concerns from NATO states that the new administration is cooling its commitment to the alliance. On Wednesday, Mattis said the US would “moderate” its financial commitment if more member states didn’t meet the requirement that they spend two percent of their budgets on military. Even with this threat, the US still has a “rock solid” commitment to the alliance, he said.