US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea amid tensions with North Korea

USS Theodore Roosevelt to participate in joint military exercises between the United States, South Korea and Japan.

South Korea
An F-18 fighter jet sits in the hangar of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, anchored at Busan Naval Base in South Korea [Song Kyung-Seok/Pool via AFP]

A nuclear-powered United States aircraft carrier has arrived in South Korea for three-nation exercises aimed at stepping up military training, days after North Korea and Russia signed a mutual defence pact.

“The US Navy’s aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt … arrived at the Busan Naval Base on the morning of June 22,” the South Korean Navy said in a statement.

“[The aircraft carrier’s arrival] demonstrates the strong combined defence posture of the South Korea-US alliance and their firm resolve to respond to the escalating threats from North Korea,” it said on Saturday.

The carrier is expected to participate in joint exercises with South Korea and Japan this month. Pyongyang has always decried similar combined drills as rehearsals for an invasion.

The leaders of the three nations had agreed at a summit in August 2023 to hold annual military training drills. Earlier this month, their defence chiefs announced new exercises aimed at sharpening their combined response in various areas including air, sea and cyberspace.

The arrival of the USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group comes a day after South Korea summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against deal reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week. The pact pledges mutual defence assistance in the event of war.

Putin visited North Korea for the first time in 24 years.

South Korea says the agreement between the two isolated nations poses a threat to its security and warned that it could consider sending arms to Ukraine to help fight off the Russian invasion as a response.

North Korean soldiers have also recently been engaged in activities such as laying more landmines, reinforcing tactical roads and adding what seemed to be antitank barriers near the border, according to the South Korean military.

The two Koreas have been locked in a tit-for-tat “balloon war”, with an activist in the South confirming on Friday that he had floated more balloons carrying propaganda north.

Pyongyang has already sent more than a thousand balloons carrying rubbish southwards, and Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong warned on Friday that the North is likely to retaliate.

Source: News Agencies