• A US aircraft carrier has arrived in South Korea for military exercises.
  • Its arrival comes days after Russia and North Korea agreed to an unprecedented defense pact.
  • The carrier group sends a message to Russia and North Korea and projects US power in the region.

A US Navy aircraft carrier has arrived in South Korea at an opportune moment.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group arrived in Busan on Saturday, days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to a defense pact during a high-profile summit in Pyongyang.

The South Korean Navy said the nuclear-powered carrier "demonstrates the strong combined defense posture of the South Korea-US alliance and their firm resolve to respond to the escalating threats from North Korea."

Its mere presence projects US power and reach across the region.

The Roosevelt is the first US carrier to dock in South Korea since the USS Carl Vinson visited in November last year. Along with the Roosevelt, the destroyers USS Halsey and USS Daniel Inouye are also in South Korea as part of the carrier's strike group, the South Korean Navy said.

While in South Korea, the Roosevelt is expected to participate in joint exercises with its host and Japan to improve cooperation between the three countries' navies amid growing tensions in the Indo-Pacific.

The Roosevelt previously participated in a two-day joint exercise with Japan and South Korea in April in the East China Sea.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea. Foto: U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Aaron Haro Gonzalez

At Putin and Kim's meeting in Pyongyang, the two leaders displayed warm relations and agreed to support each other should one be attacked, similar to Article Five of the NATO doctrine. Putin also suggested he could send weapons to North Korea, which would have major repercussions for relations on the peninsula and beyond.

The pact between Russia and North Korea compelled a swift response from South Korea, which threatened to increase its support for Ukraine's war effort by directly sending lethal aid to Kyiv — a change from its current policy of only sending ammunition via the United States.

After the aircraft carrier finishes its exercises, it'll depart for the Middle East, where it will replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. The Eisenhower left the region on Saturday after a relentless battle against Yemen's Houthis, who have been attacking shipping lanes in the Red Sea in support of Palestinians.

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