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USS Harry S. Truman to stay in Mediterranean to reassure European allies

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, pictured departing Naval Station Norfolk, will stay in the Mediterranean to reassure European allies instead of making a planned transit to the Middle East. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaleb J. Sarten/U.S. Navy
The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, pictured departing Naval Station Norfolk, will stay in the Mediterranean to reassure European allies instead of making a planned transit to the Middle East. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaleb J. Sarten/U.S. Navy

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered the USS Harry S. Truman to remain in the Mediterranean Sea, delaying a scheduled to journey to the Middle East.

The schedule change for the carrier, as well as its strike group and its escorts, which entered the Mediterranean on Dec. 14 and are currently operating in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy, was first reported by USNI News.

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Austin ordered the change to reassure European allies of U.S. commitment to regional security, according to CNN.

While officials did not mention the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border in Eastern Europe, but tensions have been building since troops and equipment started massing there.

RELATED Putin: Russia's response could 'vary' for U.S., NATO on Ukraine

More than 10,000 Russian troops will return to base after completing over a month of training in areas near the Ukrainian border, according to a statement from Russia's Defense Ministry on Saturday.

The BBC reported on satellite images showing Russian military buildup in Crimea and not far from eastern Ukraine, which Russia initially described as alarmist.

Recently, a Russian diplomat demanded talks with the United States about NATO, and an arms control negotiator echoed his earlier warning of military response to NATO activities expanding eastward to include Ukraine.

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On Sunday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin told Russian news agency TASS that the country's response would "vary" if the United States and NATO refuse to make and stand by security guarantees relating to Ukraine.

The United States and Russia are slated to meet on Jan. 10 to talk about the escalating tensions over Ukraine.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden supported Ukraine's sovereignty and said there would be economic consequences if Russia continues the military buildup, according to a White House readout of the call.

RELATED U.S. urges Russia to de-escalate troop buildup on Ukraine's border

Ukraine recently estimated 122,000 Russian troops are within 124 miles of their border, up tens of thousands from weeks ago, Bloomberg previously reported.

Last week, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan urged Russia to de-escalate troop buildup on Ukraine's border in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Yuri Ushakov, The Hill reported.

Ukraine and Russia have had ongoing disputes since Russia re-absorbed Crimea within its borders in 2014.

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