NATO begins maritime exercises in the Mediterranean as Russia-Ukraine threat looms

Exercise has been planned since 2020, but “tensions” in Europe helped propel them forward

Updated: January 22, 2022 - 1:03pm

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NATO members will on Monday kick off maritime exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, a measure likely meant in part to flex the coalition’s military muscles at a time when the threat of conflict with Russia looms large. 

The exercises, dubbed "Neptune Strike ‘22," is “designed to demonstrate NATO's ability to integrate the high-end maritime strike capabilities of an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defense of the alliance," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday

The U.S.’s Nimitz-class USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group "will be placed under NATO operational control and serve as the centerpiece for this long-planned activity that fosters NATO allies' ability to cooperate and integrate effectively," Kirby said. 

Kirby also said the exercise has been planned since 2020, but that “current tensions in Europe” involving Russia and Ukraine "were considered when deciding whether to press on with the exercise." 

"There was due consideration ... given tensions right now, about our exercise posture," Kirby said. "After all that consideration and discussion with our NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies, the decision was made to move ahead."