US destroyer attends exercise with Turkish Navy in East Mediterranean after Russia’s advance in Syria
A U.S. destroyer has visited a Turkish naval base and participated in a joint exercise with the Turkish Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean, following Russia’s recent military advances in Syria.
The USS Donald Cook, which has ballistic missile defense capabilities, visited the Aksaz Naval Base between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 and moved to the Eastern Mediterranean on Nov. 2 in order to attend the “Eastern Mediterranean Sea Exercise,” Turkish military sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Elements of the Turkish Naval Forces including submarines, surface and air defense units, conducted joint training with the USS Donald Cook aimed at enhancing military coordination between the two countries.
Military sources stressed that NATO was closely monitoring the increasing military presence of Russia in the Eastern Mediterranean and the threat posed by ballistic missiles of the Syrian regime. They said Ankara was continuing its discussions with NATO and other allies for the defense of Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Russian Navy’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov, an Udaloy-class destroyer, has entered the Mediterranean Sea, the Sputnik News agency quoted Northern Fleet spokesperson Capt. 1st Rank Vadim Serga as saying on Nov. 5.
NATO will outline proposals next month for a new “southern strategy” in response to mounting instability across the Middle East and Russia’s growing military presence south of the Bosphorus, the Financial Times reported on Nov. 4.
The strategy will focus on a range of measures including increased surveillance and reconnaissance activities across the Mediterranean by NATO forces, deployments of NATO troops in advisory roles to crisis-hit countries across north Africa and the Middle East, and reinforced permanent NATO military deployments in the region, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“We will discuss a southern strategy at our foreign ministerial which will take place on Dec. 1 and 2,” said Stoltenberg in Zaragoza, Spain. “There we will have a report addressing and assessing the challenges we face to the south.”
“Freedom of navigation [in the Mediterranean] is fundamentally important to NATO,” General Adrian Bradshaw, NATO’s deputy supreme allied commander said. “As we observe the deployment of more sophisticated [Russian] capabilities with considerable reach it becomes more and more important that we refresh our deterrence.”