US keeps carrier in Mediterranean amid Russia tensions
US keeps carrier in Mediterranean amid Russia tensions

The move comes despite by the US and Russia agreeing to hold talks on January 10 on tensions including over Ukraine

The United States has ordered an aircraft carrier to remain in the Mediterranean in a bid to reassure European allies amid fears Russia will invade Ukraine, an official said Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier strike group to stay in the region and hold off on its scheduled onward voyage to the Middle East.

The “schedule change reflects the need for a persistent presence in Europe, and is necessary to reassure our allies and partners of our commitment to collective defense,” a defense official said.

The move comes despite an agreement by the United States and Russia to hold talks on January 10 on Geneva on tensions including over Ukraine.

President Joe Biden’s administration has insisted on working in lockstep with European allies, with Nato representatives also slated to meet with Russia.

Western officials say that Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border, raising fears of a repeat of 2014 when Moscow seized the Crimean peninsula and a pro-Moscow insurgency broke out in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies plans for an invasion but has called for security guarantees against an eastward expansion of Nato, the US-backed alliance.

The Harry S Truman carrier group set sail on December 1 from its base in Norfolk, Virginia on a regularly scheduled deployment.

Last week it conducted joint exercises with the Tunisian military before sailing east.

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