The theater of conflict in Ukraine is not very close, but the message is clearly addressed to Russia: NATO is holding a demonstration this week in the eastern Mediterranean, with a naval force led by the USS Harry S. Truman.
Today marks the uninterrupted movement of aircraft on the huge runway of the aircraft carrier that sails north of Benghazi in Libya and has been placed under NATO command to lead the Neptune Shield 2022 training exercise that takes place from 17 to 31 May.
“I want to be as prepared as possible,” said Admiral Curt Renzo. “We look at Russian capabilities and we look at our own, and then we train to face what they can do and to defend ourselves as well as our partners and allies.”
Although the operation was “planned long before” the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “the nature of the enhanced alert operation was adjusted at different times,” according to a British Royal Navy pilot who was seconded to the US aircraft carrier. “We are here to work hand in hand with our allies and to be ready to deal with any eventuality.”
“As for the Russian forces, we are watching them very closely, including their submarines where they are on a mission,” he said, calling the unprovoked attack on a neighboring European country “worrying behavior.”
As part of Operation Neptune Shield 2022, NATO forces are deployed in the Mediterranean, but also in the Baltic, another hotspot after the start of the Russian offensive. In a statement, NATO explained that the goal is the flexible integration of the Alliance’s naval capabilities to support the means of deterrence and defense.