Mattis says Russia tried to 'muck around' US vote, again

Mattis says Russia tried to 'muck around' US vote, again

Referring to last week's naval confrontation near the Crimean peninsula, in which Russian ships seized three Ukrainian ships and two dozen Ukrainian sailors, Mattis criticized what he called Russia's "brazen" violation of a treaty with Ukraine.

The revelation comes just days after President Donald Trump canceled a formal sit-down meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina this weekend.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "tried to muck around" in November's midterm elections, amid increasingly tense relations between the US and Russia. "And we are seeing a continued effort along those lines", Mattis said, adding that the United States would take whatever steps were necessary to defend American democracy.

"We are going to stand with the 41 nations, largest wartime coalition in history, who are still committed to this effort", Mattis said at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday.

American politicians, including Donald Trump, voiced concerns prior to November that Russian Federation would try to meddle in the United States congressional elections.

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But independent researchers and social media firms countered this conclusion, saying that Russian Federation has indeed continued its online influence campaigns to sow distrust in American democratic institutions.

"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 an animosity against his people, "said Mattis".

That comment reiterated those he made several days prior that Russia's attack upon and seizure of three Ukrainian ships violated global law.

Mattis said, in the Indo-Pacific region, we keep our decades-old alliances strong by building new partnerships.

The decision to scrap the meeting with Putin came shortly after Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of lying to Congress about a skyscraper project Trump was pursuing in Moscow during the 2016 US presidential race.

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