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Russia: Pentagon Should Not Seek Dialogue From 'Position Of Strength'

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and armed forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov attend a security conference in Moscow in April 2015.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said Russia is prepared to improve ties with the Pentagon, but warned against Washington seeking cooperation from a "position of strength."

"We are ready to resume cooperation with the Pentagon, but attempts to build a dialogue with Russia from a position of strength would be futile," Russian news agencies quoted Shoigu as saying on February 16.

"We expect clarification on the position of the Pentagon," he said.

Shoigu's statement came in reaction to comments by U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who on February 15 spoke of the need to show toughness in dealing with Russia.

"We remain open to opportunities to restore a cooperative relationship with Moscow, while being realistic in our expectations and ensuring our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength," Mattis said during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Shoigu's statement came just hours before General Joe Dunford and General Valery Gerasimov, the U.S. and Russian military chiefs of staff, were to hold talks in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, in the first meeting between the two countries' senior military members since Donald Trump was elected president last year.

Shoigu said Moscow would seek Dunford's explanation at the Baku meeting.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, TASS, and CNN