WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US-Russian relations will continue to deteriorate, if Washington continues to neglect Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Mullen said.
"If we completely neglect him [Russian President Vladimir Putin] and our relationship just continues to go south… he will become much more closely aligned with China," Mullen stated at the Washington Ideas Roundtable organized by the Aspen Institute.
"To have them [Russia] engaged is better than to not have them engaged," Mullen concluded.
Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated in 2014 after the overwhelming majority of the Crimean population voted in a referendum to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia. The move prompted the United States, European Union and their allies to impose sanctions on both Russia and the breakaway republic.