Rival NATO And Russian Fleets Practice Sinking Each Other In The Mediterranean

By David Axe
Jun 30, 2021

Since last week, two rival fleets—one each belonging to Russia and NATO—have taken turns pretending to sink each other in the crowded waters of the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Russian bombers, reinforced by fighters packing hypersonic missiles, staged at least one mock attack run on a British aircraft carrier while other Russian planes buzzed the flattop’s escorts.

The British carrier’s stealth fighters returned the favor when at least one of the radar-evading jets circled a Russian warship.

Forces began streaming into the Med and the adjacent Black Sea a couple weeks ago. In late May, the United Kingdom’s new flattop HMS Queen Elizabeth led her strike group—two destroyers, two frigates, two supply ships and a nuclear submarine from the Royal Navy plus a Dutch frigate and an American destroyer—into the Med.

Three weeks later some of Queen Elizabeth’s stealth fighters—she embarks 18 British and American F-35Bs—struck militants in Syria.

Meanwhile the destroyer HMS Defender and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen detached from the carrier group and sailed into the Black Sea, where NATO has organized a war game with Ukrainian forces. Exercise Sea Breeze involves 32 warships, 40 aircraft and thousands of personnel from 32 NATO and partner countries.

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