Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Saturday he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin again tried to meddle in U.S. elections.
“There is no doubt the relationship has worsened,” Mattis said Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif. “He tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.”
Mattis described the Russian leader as “someone we simply cannot trust.” And labeled him a “slow learner.”
“He is not recognizing that what he is doing is actually creating the animosity against his people,” Mattis said. “He’s not acting in the best interests of the Russian people, and he is actually causing NATO to rearm and to strengthen the democracies’ stance, the unified stance of all the democracies together.”
As President Trump was leaving for Argentina on Thursday, he used Twitter to announce he was calling off his planned sit-down with Putin, over Russia’s latest moves to hinder Ukraine’s ability to operate in the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has a number of important ports. Russia seized Ukrainian ships.
“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin,” Trump said. “I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved.”
The two leaders did interact in Argentina during a dinner Friday night.
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