US orders aircraft carrier remain in Mediterranean amid fears Russia will invade Ukraine

US orders aircraft carrier remain in Mediterranean amid fears Russia will invade Ukraine
2 min read
29 December, 2021
The move comes despite an agreement by the United States and Russia to hold talks on 10 January in Geneva on tensions, including over Ukraine.
The USS Harry S Truman has been ordered to hold off on traveling to the Middle East [Matt Cardy/Getty]

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 on 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 defence official said.

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

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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 military alliance.

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

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