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    US Secretary of Defence James Mattis delivers a speech during a press conference following the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting at NATO headquarter in Brussels

    Mattis on Shoigu's Remark: 'NATO Has Always Stood for Military Strength'

    © AFP 2019 / THIERRY CHARLIER
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    US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday he had no need to respond to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's remarks on the 'position of strength'.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Shoigu said earlier Thursday: "We are ready to restore cooperation with the Pentagon. But attempts to build dialogue from a position of strength with regard to Russia are futile."

    "I have no need to respond to the Russian statement at all. NATO has always stood for military strength and protection of the democracies and the freedoms we intend to pass on to our children," Mattis said.

    Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that US President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had told NATO that they fully supported the dual-track approach, which was about defense and dialogue. US Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke at the NATO defense ministerial meeting Wednesday of the need to engage with Russia "from a position of strength."

    The United States is not in a position to cooperate on a military level with Russia but will engage in political interaction with Moscow, Mattis said on Thursday.

    "What we will do is we will engage politically. 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… with NATO."

    NATO has been significantly increasing its presence in Eastern Europe after the eruption of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 using alleged Russian interference in the Ukrainian internal affairs as a pretext, a claim Russia has repeatedly denied. Moscow has repeatedly voiced its protests against the NATO military buildup saying that will undermine regional stability and result in a new arms race.

    During the last NATO summit in July, NATO resolved to strengthen its military presence in Eastern Europe on a rotational basis with four battalions in Poland and in the Baltic nations. During the 2014 summit, NATO established a 5,000-strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in response to the alleged Russian threat.

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    NATO, James Mattis, Sergei Shoigu, United States, Russia
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