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16 Feb, 2017 09:48

Russia won't be talked to ‘from position of strength’ – Moscow on US statement

Russia won't be talked to ‘from position of strength’ – Moscow on US statement

Russia will not be talked to from a position of strength, only as an equal partner, the Russian defense minister said, commenting on the latest remark by his US counterpart. It comes as senior military commanders of the two nations are about to meet.

“We are prepared to restore cooperation with the Pentagon,” Sergey Shoigu told journalists on Thursday. “But attempts to establish a dialogue with from a position of strength would be fruitless.”

The warning came in response to remarks by US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who described his plan on reengaging Russia at a NATO meeting.

“Just as we did throughout the darkest days of the Cold War, the United States remains willing to keep open political channels of cooperation and deescalate tensions,” he said. “We remain open to opportunities to restore a cooperative relationship with Moscow, while being realistic in our expectations and ensuring our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength.”

The remark mirrors what Mattis said about his view of the American military’s role during his confirmation hearings last month.

Mattis on Thursday said he had “no need to respond” to Shoigu’s remark. He added that Moscow had to prove its trustworthiness before the Pentagon would cooperate with the Russian military.

“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,” the Pentagon chief told reporters after talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Communications between Russian and American militaries were severely damaged under the Obama administration, which was trying to isolate Moscow from other world nations. Arguably the most immediate operational issue on which the two sides talk to each other on a regular basis is the prevention of incidents in Syria, where both conduct regular sorties.

During the latest month of Obama's term Moscow and Washington negotiated on combining efforts in Syria to fight the terrorist group Al-Nusra Front, but the plan was never realized.