Russia has begun its biggest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War as it aims to effectively end the war in Syria on the eve of the US election, NATO officials warned last night.
The Kremlin is sending the full might of its Northern Fleet and part of the Baltic Fleet to reinforce a final assault on the city of Aleppo in a fortnight, according to Western intelligence.
The final bombardment is designed to shore up the Assad regime by wiping out rebels – paving the way for a Russian exit from the civil war.
The assault on the city will also serve to highlight US inaction in the run-up to election day and may aid Donald Trump.
Yesterday, ahead of this morning’s debate with Hillary Clinton, his presidential campaign released a letter from defence experts backing plans to increase the size of the US military.
Royal Navy warships are due to escort a group of eight Russian warships, including the country’s only aircraft carrier, as they sail past the UK on their way to the Mediterranean.
Read more at the Telegraph UK.
Russian state television is back on a war footing.
This time, the ramped-up rhetoric follows the collapse of cease-fire efforts in Syria. As the U.S. and Russia accused each other of sinking diplomacy, Moscow increased its military presence in the Mediterranean and Baltic regions, and suspended a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. A prime-time news program warned that the U.S. wants to provoke a conflict.
The sudden escalation puts the relationship back into the deep freeze it was in at the peak of the crisis over Ukraine in 2014, which also sparked a wave of hostility in state media. That anti-U.S. campaign ended as the Kremlin sought to ease Western punitive measures imposed over the Ukrainian crisis — hopes that now seem to be in tatters.
“Offensive behavior toward Russia has a nuclear dimension,” Russian state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said in his “Vesti Nedelyi” program on Sunday. “Moscow would react with nerves of iron to a Plan B,” he said, referring to any possible U.S. military strike in Syria.
The Kremlin’s control over Russian media has in part helped keep President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating above 80 percent during the country’s longest recession in two decades and portrayed military deployments in Crimea and Syria as victories against western encroachment.
Read More at Bloomberg.