Amid tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, NATO is holding a major military exercise in the Mediterranean.
The US aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman will also take part in the naval maneuvers starting Monday, as US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said yesterday. The exercise, dubbed Neptune Strike 22, is scheduled to last until February 4.
Connection with Ukraine is denied
Kirby stressed that the maneuvers had nothing to do with current fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The exercise is not designed for the kind of scenarios that could play out over Ukraine,” the Pentagon spokesman said.
The maneuver had also been planned for a long time. However, “Neptune Strike 22” was not on a list of military exercises planned for 2022 published by NATO in December.
Kirby said the maneuver had been put to the test given the current tensions with Russia. Ultimately, however, the NATO partners decided to stick to the maneuver.
Russia announced several major maneuvers
Russia recently announced large-scale naval maneuvers in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific and Mediterranean. A total of more than 140 ships and 10,000 soldiers are expected to take part in the exercises planned for January and February.
The aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman and its escort ships have been in the Mediterranean since mid-December. The warship was supposed to be relocated, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decided to leave it in the Mediterranean to “reassure” Europeans about the conflict with Russia.Russia And NATO.