Defense Secretary James Mattis tore into Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday for assaulting Western democracy and undermining one of the most powerful U.S. alliances, amid President Donald Trump's repeated calls for Russia's return to the Group of Seven industrialized nations.
"Putin seeks to shatter NATO," Mattis said during his remarks at the U.S. Naval War College graduation. "He aims to diminish the appeal of the Western democratic model and attempts to undermine America's moral authority."
Mattis singled out Putin's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in early 2014.
In response to Putin's actions, the United States, the European Union and a number of other nations imposed sanctions against Russia.
And the G-8 nations kicked Russia out of the group, marking a return to the G-7 format, made up of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
"For the first time since World War II, Russia has been the nation that has redrawn international borders by force of arms in Georgia and Ukraine, while pursuing veto authority over their neighbors' diplomatic, economic and security decisions," Mattis said.
"His actions are designed not to challenge our arms, but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals," he added.