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Mattis Condemns Russia for Influence-Peddling in Macedonia

USA Today

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Macedonia Monday, condemning Russian efforts to use its money and influence to build opposition to an upcoming vote that could pave the way for the country to join NATO — a move Moscow opposes, Fox News reports.

Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Skopje that there is "no doubt" that Moscow has been funding pro-Russian groups in order to defeat the referendum on a name change later this month.

"They have transferred money and they're also conducting broader influence campaigns," Mattis said. "We ought to leave the Macedonian people to make up their own minds."

Mattis is the latest in a string of international leaders visiting Macedonia to voice support for the referendum, and he's the most senior U.S. official to go there. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz have all visited and made public endorsements of the name change, saying it's critical in order for the country to join NATO, after years of waiting.


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