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US Defense Chief Trash Talks: 'We Will Deter Russia's Influence' in Syria

Ash Carter doesn't know talk is cheap

Originally appeared in The Guardian

Carter said the US ‘will take all necessary steps’ to counter Russian ‘influence, coercion and aggression’. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

The US defense chief has vowed to take “all necessary steps” against a resurgent Russia which is challenging a frustrated Washington in eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Ash Carter, the US defense secretary, said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had wrapped his country in a “shroud of isolation” which only a drastic change in policy could reverse.

“We will take all necessary steps to deter Russia’s malign and destabilising influence, coercion and aggression,” Carter said, attacking Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Syria.

The speech at a US army convention on Wednesday included some of the strongest language yet by the Obama administration, which came into office determined to “reset” relations with Russia and move them in a more cooperative direction.

Carter said that as long as Russia pursued a “misguided strategy” in Syria to bolster its client Bashar al-Assad, “we have not, and will not, agree to cooperate with Russia”.

Meanwhile, Russiaclaimed that the United States snubbed its overtures for high-level consultations on Syria, refusing to send a delegation to Moscow or receive a high-ranking Russian delegation.

On Tuesday, Putin said he wanted to send a delegation led by the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, to the US. Moscow said the suggestion was first raised during a meeting between Putin and Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN general assembly last month.

“Literally today, we got an official reply,” the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Wednesday. “We have been told that they can’t send a delegation to Moscow and they can’t host a delegation in Washington either.”

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