World's biggest warship $13bn USS Gerald Ford starts first mission with massive Nato drill in defiant message to Putin | The Sun

THE world's largest warship, USS Gerald Ford, launched its first mission in a massive Nato drill as a message of defiance against Putin.

The $13 billion vessel is set to partner with Canada, France and Germany, among others, in air defence training and anti-submarine warfare to protect both land and air power.

A video was released by the US Navy's Facebook which revealed the warship being taken out to sea on Tuesday October 4, from the Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

Admiral Daryl Caudle said: "[The ship's deployment will] demonstrate its unmatched, multi-domain, full-spectrum lethality in the Atlantic."

The NATO drill has been initiated in a message of defiance as Russia claimed today that Vladimir Putin has completed legal paperwork which marks the annexation of 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory.

The regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have now been formally absorbed into Putin's regime, according to the Kremlin, as Putin looks to legitimise his war in Ukraine.

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However, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's troops continue to fight back and he announced that his army has liberated "dozens" of Ukrainian settlements, as it continues its counter-offensive.

This comes as Russian troops have also been ordered to retreat todayas Ukraine's southern tank assault steamrolled their positions – and President Zelensky vowed he "won't stop".

Pro-Russian blogs revealed their frontline has deteriorated and soldiers were ordered to "re-group".

Now, Ukraine's defenders are strikingly close to Kherson city, the only provincial capital captured since February 24 that is still under Russian control. 

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US and UK long-range rockets have severed the only bridges across the four-mile-wide river on the west bank of the Dnipro, meaning thousands of Russian troops face being encircled there.

They are expected to fall back to the Inhulets river, just a few miles east of the city.

In the last week alone, Russia has lost a staggering 4,000 square kilometres of territory.

Four Russian warplanes have also been intercepted today, after they flew into Nato airspace.

Italian Air Force fighter planes were scrambling after Putin's jets were detected straying into airspace belonging to Poland and Sweden from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Rome sent four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Poland as part of a Nato air policing mission back in July – with the warplanes stationed at Malbork Air Base.

As part of Nato's training mission with USS George Ford, nine different countries are involved in the deployment including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

At more than 1,100 feet long, 9,000 people, 60 aircrafts and 20 ships will take part.

Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior fellow and defence expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said: "The US military, most visibly through US Navy carrier strike groups, first deter bad actors and messy wars.

"If deterrence is lost, then we have a lot of equipment and bases that are vulnerable in the next conflict.

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"As the US (seemingly constantly) debates the utility of the carrier, other nations are busy heavily investing in aircraft carriers – from India, China, France, UK, Australia and Italy – which speaks to the ship's continued utility both in peacetime and war."

Nato and Russia remain at loggerheads over Putin's war in Ukraine – with Moscow continuously raising the spectre of a wider conflict if the West continues to help Ukraine.

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