U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said that the United States and its allies won't let Russia "drag us back to the past," as he accused Moscow of trying to re-create a Soviet-era sphere of influence.
Carter, speaking in Berlin on June 22 at the start of a European tour, said, "We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake: We will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us all."
Russia's involvement in Ukraine has triggered a series of military moves by the NATO alliance, including the creation of a NATO rapid-response force.
Carter said the alliance would keep the door open to an improved relationship with Russia. But he said, "The United States will not let Russia drag us back to the past."
Carter is due to hold talks with the defense ministers of Germany, Netherlands, and Norway.
On June 23, he travels to Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, where he is scheduled to meet with the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa