Mattis says Putin tried to "muck around" in November's midterm elections

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is welcomed by Argentina's President Mauricio Macri back upon his arrival for a bilateral meeting at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires Argentina Saturday Dec. 1 2018

However, Mattis said that he didn't think the threat from Russian Federation to American elections had increased.

Mattis, in a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library and during a question-and-answer session afterward, was unyielding in his criticism of Putin.

"No doubt the relationship has worsened", Mattis said about the relationship between the USA and Russian Federation.

Mattis also asserted that Russian Federation had interfered in the November midterm elections for Congress, though he gave no details nor provided any further evidence.

"What we are seeing Putin do with his ripping up of worldwide agreements. we're dealing with someone that we simply can not trust", the Pentagon chief added. He added more generally, "It's his efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended".

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"Mr. Putin is clearly a slow learner", Mattis said during the forum here Saturday.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia spiked on November 25 when Russian forces opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels, detaining the 24 crew members. He is not recognizing that what he is doing is actually creating an animosity against his people, "said Mattis.

What we see, what Putin is doing, not observing global agreements... we are dealing with someone who we just can't trust", - said Mattis, calling Putin a "slow learner" (translated from English. - bad student, tokodai, obtuse). The White House on Saturday said Trump, however, did have an "informal" conversation with the Russian president.

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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