Accompanied by 10 warships, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier on Wednesday, April 24, deployed opposite the Syrian coast in a dramatic show of strength against Russia and Iran. The effect was underlined by the revelation from US Navy sources of the presence on the carrier’s command bridge of none other than US ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman. His message needed no commentary: “When you have 200,000 tons of diplomacy cruising the Mediterranean, this is forward-operating diplomacy – nothing else need be said.”
There is no precedent even in the Cold War years between America and Soviet Russia of a US ambassador being planted on a front line against Russian and Iranian forces in the Middle East. The US Navy communique reported that Ambassador Huntsman was inspecting the operations of “9.000 crew and Marines and the 130 warplanes on the decks of the Lincoln and other vessels of the strike group.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources: This show of US military-backed diplomatic muscle was timed for Thursday, April 25, when President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader were about to sit down for their first summit in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, This meeting was seen in Washington as Putin’s challenge of the nuclear negotiation channel set up by President Donald Trump with the North Korean dictator.
The Lincoln’s deployment facing the Syrian coast was also the Trump administration’s answer to the three top Iranians, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who Wednesday threatened America with harsh retribution for the sanctions that were blocking its oil exports.
Added to this, on Wednesday, Moscow advised Ukrainian separatists supported by Russia in their battle against the central government in Kiev that the red tape would be cleared from the path of any of those fighters who sought Russian citizenship. This was seen in Washington as a half-step towards Russia’s annexation of another part of Ukraine after Crimea. The State Department issued this statement: “Russia, through this highly provocative action, is intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and national integrity.”
On \Tuesday, April 23, DEBKAfile was first to break the news of the arrival in the Mediterranean of two US carriers and their strike groups – the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS John C. Stennis, and reported that they are operating with the US Sixth Fleet in conjunction with allied navies.