Vladimir Putin is "slow learner", - US Secretary of Defense

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       Lisa Ferdinando  DoD

News Lisa Ferdinando DoD

Mattis made the remarks at the Reagan National Defence Forum in Simi Valley, California, referring to the 2003 agreement between Russian Federation and Ukraine that allowed ships of both sides free passage through the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, Xinhua news agency reported. He recognizes that what he does is actually creates hostility against his people.

"There is no doubt the relationship has worsened".

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday that Russian Federation tried to meddle in the US midterm elections last month - just as it did in the 2016 vote that brought President Donald Trump to power.

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Defense Secretary James Mattis said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "tried to muck around" in November's midterm elections, amid increasingly tense relations between the US and Russia.

On Saturday, Putin said he hopes a meeting with Trump will take place "when the USA is ready".

"What we witnessed this weekend is yet another reckless Russian escalation" of what began with Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its ongoing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, said outgoing U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley in response to the actions.

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Speaking of a 2003 agreement governing the Kerch Strait between the Azov Sea and Black Sea, Mattis said Moscow had shown "brazen contempt and dismissal" for the deal "that allowed both Russian and Ukrainian ships free passage".

"Mr. Putin clearly comes tight". He added more generally, "It's his efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended".

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta said "this is probably the revelation of the day".

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While Trump spoke briefly with Putin on the sidelines of the summit, he chose to cancel the two leaders' formal meeting.

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