Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Thursday that the United States is not ready to collaborate with Russia militarily to fight threats like the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
Mattis signaled that U.S.-Russia relations are not going to change anytime soon in the security realm while meeting with NATO defense ministers in Brussels, the Associated Press reported.
The Pentagon chief's comments appeared to rule out the possibility of collaborating with Russia in the Syrian conflict, at least in the short term. The United States is supporting groups fighting the Islamic State in Syria while Russia, which claims to be doing the same, has devoted most of its military assets in the war-torn country to target rebel groups fighting the Assad regime.
Past talks between Moscow and Washington have broken down on working together to target terrorists in Syria.
Mattis said that political leaders will work toward "a way forward where Russia, living up to its commitments, will return to a partnership of sorts here with NATO."
"But Russia is going to have to prove itself first," he added.
Mattis also had stern words for Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, adding that there is "very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies."
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for reintroducing coordination between American and Russian intelligence.
Putin made the comments the same day a Russian spy ship was reportedly spotted off the East Coast of the United States, potentially monitoring U.S. naval activity.