US Defense Secretary James Mattis accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of international ‘mischief’

June 28, 2017 10:30 pm

Secretary of Defense (Photo by AFP)

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has accused Russian President of committing “mischief” outside Russian borders, claiming that Moscow is challenging the post-World War II US-led international order.
The Pentagon chief, who is on a visit to Germany, made the remarks before a group of students who had attended a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan to rebuild a ravaged Europe after World War II.
Mattis said Putin’s actions undermined the “secure and peaceful” order that was established after the devastating WWII.
The Russian people’s “leader making mischief beyond Russian borders will not restore their fortunes or rekindle their hope,” he charged, apparently referring to old US claims about Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict as well as its meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Washington and its European allies imposed a series of sanctions against Moscow in 2014, after the Ukrainian-held peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia in a referendum.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by AFP)

Tensions between the two adversaries escalated after Republican Donald Trump made his way into the White House as the new president.
American intelligence services and the administration of former President Barack Obama claimed that the businessman-turned-president was able to defeat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with help from Russia.
The scope of the accusations soon were extended to other countries such as France, with US intelligence services accusing Russia of meddling in their Democratic process as well.
The US Congress is currently in the process of passing more sanctions against Russia under the same pretext.
The two sides have also been at loggerheads over the Syrian conflict, accusing each other of worsening the situation there.
‘NATO support to remain steady’
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Pentagon chief reassured US’ NATO allies that the Trump administration was going to continue its support for the military alliance despite Washington’s displeasure with lack of cooperation on part of some members.
Trump, who had called NATO “obsolete” during his election campaign, stoked more concerns about the alliance’s future during the G7 summit in Europe last month, where he upbraided allies over their levels of military spending.
Mattis said, however, that instead of words, the allies should judge Trump by his actions.
Noting that Trump had requested a huge increase for the European Reassurance Initiative, up from $3.4 billion last year to $4.8 billion this year, he said the US was going to stay true to Article 5 of the NATO alliance and defend other members if they are attacked.
Under the so-called European Reassurance Initiative, the US and NATO have been placing thousands of troops near Russia’s borders to curb what they call “Russian aggression.”
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