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Mattis to Adversaries: 'Don’t Be Foolish'

Oct. 4, 2018 | BY Air Force Staff Sgt. Megan Friedl
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Defense Secretary James N.  Mattis today assured NATO’s friends and adversaries that the alliance’s unity and momentum will be up to the task in meeting the threats of today’s world.

Mattis spoke at a news conference following a meeting of NATO defense ministers at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

The defense secretary addressed the progress the organization has made in implementing decisions made at the NATO summit in July, the unity the United States has with its alliances, and relations with Russia.

“In an unpredictable world, allies have renewed their sense of urgency on all aspects of burden sharing: cash, capability and contributions,” Mattis said.

“As our alliance moves at the speed of relevance on each, we send a clear message to our friends: do not be afraid, and to any adversary: do not be foolish," Mattis said. "The current situation with Russia in blatant violation of this treaty is untenable.”

In 2017, he noted, NATO allies boosted defense budgets by a combined 5.2 percent, the biggest increase in a quarter century.

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The defense secretary said Russia must return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or the United States will need to respond to its cavalier disregard of the treaty’s specific limits.

Cyberattacks have become more frequent, more complex and more destructive, Mattis said. Recently, Dutch officials caught Russia’s military intelligence agency targeting the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

“Russia displays blatant disregard for human life and international law,” Mattis said. “And despite denials from the Kremlin, the international community clearly sees the reality. And the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our Dutch, British and all NATO allies and like-minded countries against inhumane activity of chemical weapon use.”