Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at a Pentagon briefing this morning:
Starting last fall Secretary of State Rice and I began what we hoped would be an ongoing and long-term strategic dialogue with the Russian Federation. The expectation was that our two nations, despite our differences, share areas of common interest where we could work together as real partners. Russia’s behavior over the past week has called into question the entire premise of that dialogue, and has profound implications for our relationship going forward, both bilaterally and with NATO. If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the US-Russia relationship could be adversely affected for years to come.
As you may know, we have canceled our participation with Russia in a multinational naval exercise that was due to begin tomorrow. We’ve also canceled a US-Canadian-Russian exercise – Vigilant Eagle – that was to have begun on August 20. In the days and weeks ahead, the Department of Defense will re-examine the entire gamut of our military activities with Russia, and will make changes as necessary and appropriate, depending on Russian actions in the days ahead.
Asked if he still trusted Prime Minister Putin, Gates queried the word “still”, and said that in security matters one works not on the basis of trust, but of reality.