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Politics

US, France Will Hold Joint Military, Submarine Drills Off Greece

ATHENS – The United States, which has a military presence in Greece, will join with France in holding naval drills off the coast, in conjunction with Greek Navy and Air Force units, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.

The USS Harry S. Truman and the French Charles de Gaulle aircraft carriers will conduct joint exercises in the Adriatic and Ionian with their Greek counterparts, said Kathimerini.

The Charles de Gaulle escort team is already connected with the Greek navy’s Hydra frigate and the Papanikolis submarine. The exercises will also be joined by Greek aircraft from western Greece, the report said.

It will come as Greece has moved to buy French warships and fighter jets and American warships as a bulwark against Turkish provocations that brought renewed fears of a conflict with worry that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be emboldened by Russia’s attack against Ukraine.

The Harry S. Truman had already sailed to the northern Aegean. From there, EA-18G Growler aircraft appear to have carried out surveillance missions in NATO member-states, such as Bulgaria and Romania, said the report.

The US aircraft carrier arrived in the area to get close to the Black Sea after Turkey closed the Bosporus Strait to warships, citing the Treaty of Montreux which allows it to shut down the passageway.

The newspaper said that it wasn’t the first time the US aircraft carrier sailed in the northern Aegean, but the frequency with which the US Navy has been moving into the area in recent months showed concern about the fallout of the Ukraine invasion.

The USS Harry S. Truman has been sailing the area around Greece for almost three months, said to show how seriously the US took the Ukraine crisis before the invasion and with Greece and the US re-upping a military cooperation pact.

The Charles de Gaulle, which had been in Cyprus, has been in the region for some time as well and is expected to dock in the Athens suburb of Piraeus at the end of March, it was also said.

Russian warships, including the Admiral Kasatonov frigate and the Admiral Tributs destroyer and others, had also entered the Aegean Sea when the Harry S. Truman was in the area, but the two sides stayed far apart.

The Russian warships are now located either south of Crete or the south of Cyprus, using port of Tartus in Syria, which is their base in the Mediterranean, Russia aligned with Syria’s dictatorship.

The movements of the American and French naval forces in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean are part of the effort to monitor Russia and its Kilo-class submarines, the paper said.

But while aligned with the US, Greece also allows the Russian Navy to anchor off the islands of Astypalaia and Kythira, which is still allowed despite European Union sanctions against Russia.

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