HMS Elizabeth leads 19 NATO warships in Black Sea show of strength to Putin
VLADMIR Putin was sent a stark message by British forces after HMS Queen Elizabeth led a series of war games in Portugal.
The huge 3billion aircraft carrier was joined by 19 NATO warships from the US and eight other allied nations for operation Steadfast Defender on Friday.
The armed fleet included submarines, destroyers and frigates and was backed by immense aerial support from the RAF's brand new F-35B Lightning stealth fighters.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the ship's commanding officer and captain called it 'a hugely powerful statement'
'It shows that we are a global navy and wanting to be back out there,' he said. 'The aim for us is that this deployment will be part of a more persistent presence for the United Kingdom in that region,' he added, referring to the Indo-Pacific that includes India and Australia.
His words echoed a new show of strength as Putin prepares to meet Joe Biden in showdown talks as tensions rise over Ukraine.
In April, it was reported that Putin had blocked all foreign warships from reaching the country via the Black Sea.
It materialised as he piled more troops on the border for military drills – a move which was highly criticised by world governing forces.
Nato chiefs were ine of those critical but inisted that the new military excecises involving 9000 troops in Portugal are not aimed at Russia specifically.
This was despite launching a massive spending initiative after Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in 2018 with the aim of detering Putin from incurring any further into Europe.
The alliance's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg says the exercises send an important message to any potential adversary: 'Nato is ready.'
'Nato is there to defend all our allies, and this exercise sends a message about our ability to transport a large number of troops, equipment across the Atlantic, across Europe and also to project maritime power,' he said aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.
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