America’s defence minister has said that the US was not in a position “right now” for military collaboration with Russia - a blow to those in Moscow who may wish for a speedy strategic realignment following the election of Donald Trump.
Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels, US defence secretary Jim Mattis said Washington would continue to engage politically with Russia, in an effort to try and find areas of agreement. But in words that appeared to put an end to the prospect of the two countries working more closely to battle ISIS in Syria, he said military cooperation was not yet possible.
“We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level,” he said, according to Reuters. “But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground.”
The US stopped military-to-military relations with Russia in the wake of the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin and suggested the two countries may be able to work together against ISIS.
At the moment, the US and Russia military communicate in Syria about air sorties, to avoid mid-air collisions, but do not cooperate further than that.
Putin on Thursday called for increased intelligence cooperation with the US and NATO.
“It's in everyone’s interest to resume dialogue between the intelligence agencies of the United States and other members of NATO,” Mr Putin said, addressing Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).