MOSCOW (Web Desk) – The already chilly relations between Russia and the United States are likely to further strain after deployment of a second US air carrier in the Mediterranean on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
“The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) entered the US 6th Fleet area of operations today in support of US national security interests in Europe,” the US European Command (EUCOM) has announced.
“It provides some needed presence in the Med to check…the Russians,” a military official in Washington told the WSJ. He added that the new deployment demonstrates that the US Navy can be agile and adaptive.
The US military presence in the Mediterranean has been increased ahead of a NATO summit in Warsaw. Russia believes the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier strike group will support “US national security interests in Europe.”
The changeover comes at the time when the largest military drills in Eastern Europe, dubbed the Anaconda, are taking place. NATO military drills began in Poland on June 6. It is the largest such exercise since the end of the Cold War, involving 31,000 servicemen from 24 nations.
Washington claims that the increased military presence is aimed at fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and balancing Russian extensive military efforts.
“The presence of two carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrates our commitment to safety and security in the region,” the statement read. “These forces further serve to support European allies and partners, deter potential threats and are capable of conducting operations in support of the counter-ISIL [Daesh] mission.”
On Monday, the US strike group with the Harry S. Truman carrier along with the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio and the destroyer USS Gonzalez, launched 68 combat sorties and delivered 52 precision guided munitions against IS targets in Iraq and Syria from the Mediterranean Sea. More than 1,500 smart bombs and pamphlets have been dropped since December when the Truman carrier arrived.
Meanwhile, NATO is justifying its military buildup by pointing at Russia’s alleged aggression. However the idea has been long refuted by Moscow saying that it is NATO that is steadily crawling towards Russia’s borders, Russia Today reported.
The crisis in Russian-NATO relations began long before “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, which hasn’t been recognized by any international organization.
The second cause of the crisis is that the US is trying to erect missile defense shield in Europe which runs counter to Russian national security interests. Russia’s 2016 security strategy named NATO’s expansion towards its borders as one of the main threats.
The US and NATO keep on developing their missile defense system in Europe, citing a potential missile threat from Iran as a reason. Moscow repeatedly said that the US standard missile launch systems located in the vicinity of the Russian borders can be easily converted into offensive weapon and pose a threat to Russia.
However, the US has consistently turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s concerns. Its latest missile defense base in Romania entered operation in May. Poland is set to take after its neighbor and acquire a similar base within two years.