U.S., Greece to conduct military air drill in western Thrace

The United States and Greece will conduct a joint air drill in Xanthi (İskeçe), a Greek province in western Thrace, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Monday.

Over 150 U.S. helicopters, including Black Hawks and Apaches, will arrive in Alexandroupolis (Dedeağaç) port on the night of Feb.23 within the scope of the “Defender Europe 2021” military exercise, the newspaper said.

The drill arrives amid deteriorating relations Greece and neighbouring NATO ally Turkey in recent years over maritime borders dispute, following Turkey’s hydrocarbon searches in the eastern Mediterranean.

NATO allies Turkey and the United States are also at loggerheads over Turkey's purchase of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia in 2019, which Washington maintains are incompatible with the NATO alliance's defence systems.

Approximately 20 kilometres to the border with Turkey, Greece had allocated Xanthi as a U.S. naval base, following an agreement held between two countries, Cumhuriyet said.

On Feb.9, Turkey and the United States also conducted a joint naval exercise in the Black Sea, prompting objections from Russia.