American forces will participate in an intergovernmental military alliance exercise. The move comes amid escalating border tension between Ukraine and Russia.
The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group will lead the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) latest exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.
Dubbed Neptune Strike 2022, the occasion will exhibit NATO’s “natural evolution” to the latest “high-end” maritime capabilities into the carrier strike group. It also celebrates the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s successful handover from SIXTHFLT to STRIKFORNATO.
“The capability of SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO combined staffs to enable a handover of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG), demonstrates the power and cohesiveness of our maritime forces and the NATO Alliance,” Vice Adm. Gene Black said in a statement.
“NATO’s command and control of a CSG is the result of decades of alliance maritime interoperability,” added Black, who also commands SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO.
The remarks came after several Russian soldiers gathered near the country’s border with Ukraine. Their actions are widely speculated to be in preparation for a military invasion of the Eastern European nation. However, no soldier had unlawfully entered Ukrainian territory at the time of publication.
U.S. intelligence suggests Russia might still be planning “significant military action” against its neighbor country.
“Security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice,” the Department of State previously said. “Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine including in Kyiv.”
No specific targets have been identified, and authorities suggest an attack could happen “anywhere,” prompting the department to evacuate direct-hire employees and “eligible” family members from the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Kyiv.
“Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine,” the department said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently tried to reach a mutual understanding in Geneva, Switzerland.
For now, the U.S. Embassy will remain open in Kyiv. However, the State Department urged every American to temporarily avoid traveling to Ukraine.