At a meeting of NATO members in Brussels on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis ruled out any military collaboration between the United States and Russia, saying current conditions were not ideal, VOA News reports.
"We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level," Mattis said at a news conference at NATO headquarters. "But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground."
Mattis said that before any military cooperation could take place with Russia, it would have to “prove itself” able to comply with international law.
Mattis made his comments after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow was "ready to restore cooperation with the Pentagon."
U.S. President Donald Trump praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the U.S. presidential campaign and has done so since taking office.
And although the U.S. ceased cooperating with Russia in 2014 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Trump has expressed interest in working with Russia again on issues of common interest, such as the fight against Islamic State.
Mattis said Thursday that he did not think the fight against IS would end quickly, but he added the U.S. would like to speed up the multinational campaign against the militant group.
When asked about possibly sending U.S. ground troops into Syria, Mattis said he had not had enough time in office to form a plan and wanted to confer with allies before moving forward.