The US military has sent the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group to participate in a NATO naval exercise in the Mediterranean amid tensions between the West and Russia, the spokesman said on Friday. of the Pentagon.
The Neptune Strike 22 exercises, which are scheduled to begin Monday and run through February 4, “will demonstrate NATO’s ability to integrate high-end maritime strike capabilities from an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defense of the alliance”, press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyUS sends carrier group to Mediterranean as Russian threat looms Lawmakers urge Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine overnight told reporters.
He added that the strike group, along with several other NATO allies he did not name, “will participate in coordinated maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training and training. long-range strike”.
Kirby insisted the war games had been ‘long planned’ since 2020 and were not in response to recent Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border, although the drills are not listed on the NATO website among the exercises planned for this year.
Shortly after the DOD announcement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg added to speculation about the timing of the maneuver when he tweeted that “NATO will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all the allies”.
He added that the US ship’s participation in Neptune Strike 22 displays “a strong sign of transatlantic unity.”
NATO forces and weapons have moved to areas near Ukraine in recent days as Russia has refused to push back some 100,000 troops amassed near its border with Ukraine. The moves also come amid warnings from the west that Moscow could soon invade the former Soviet nation.
Spain sent warships in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and plans to send fighter planes to Bulgaria, while Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and France has offered to send troops to Romania.
The United States also allows three NATO allies – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – send American-made weapons “of their inventories for the use of Ukraine.”
Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenUS sends carrier group to Mediterranean as Russian threat looms. — who met the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Friday in Geneva in a high-stakes meeting to ease tensions – said he wanted to use diplomacy to defuse the situation. If that proves impossible, however, and Russia decides to continue aggression against Ukraine, it will receive “a united, swift and severe response”.
When asked if the scope or location of the Neptune Strike 22 exercises had been changed in any way due to the tension around Ukraine, Kirby asked NATO questions.
“If that scenario has changed over time, I don’t have that level of detail, but I would tell you…the exercise itself is not designed against the types of scenarios that might occur with respect to Ukraine,” Kirby said.