Russia has not shown any signs that it wants to be allies in a "positive relationship" with the United States, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Monday.
"At this time… I do not see any indication that (Russian President Vladimir Putin) would want a positive relationship with us," Mattis said during a hearing with the House Armed Services Committee, The Hill is reporting.
"That's not to say we can't get there as we look for common ground. But at this point, he has chosen to be a strategic competitor with us and we'll have to deal with that as we see it," Mattis added.
Mattis made the statement in response to Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who asked if Putin had any interest in a "mutually beneficial, good faith partnership" with the U.S.
Gen. Joe Dunford, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, spoke at the same hearing with Mattis, and said Russia and the U.S. have a "competitive adversarial relationship," The Hill reported.
At another point in the hearing, Mattis rebuked Congress for not removing sequestration, spending limits on defense that were imposed in 2011.
"No enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration," Mattis said, according to The Hill.
The secretary said that Continuing resolutions were of less value than passing a full defense budget, Mattis continued, and "during nine of the past 10 years, Congress has enacted 30 separate continuing resolutions upon the Department of Defense, thus inhibiting our readiness and adaptation to new challenges.
"Congress as a whole has met the present challenge with lassitude, not leadership" with continuing resolutions and sequestration, Mattis said, according to The Hill.
Legislators at the hearing discussed the differences between President Donald Trump's $603 billion base budget for defense and his campaign promises.
The president's budget "gets us in the right direction," Mattis said, adding that fiscal years 2019 and 2023 will be when "real growth comes in," The Hill notes.
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