(UR) Norway — After weeks of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia over how the fighting in Aleppo should proceed, it was reported Wednesday that a fleet of Russian warships is now sailing toward Syria.
“The Norwegian military has released pictures taken by surveillance aircraft of a fleet of Russian warships sailing in international waters off the coast of Norway and reported to be heading to Syria.
“Photos of the vessels, which include the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the Pyotr Velikiy battle cruiser, were taken near Andoya island, in northern Norway on Monday.
“A spokesman for the Norwegian military intelligence service said the country’s armed forces frequently releases such footage, while newspaper VG quoted General Morten Haga Lunde, head of the service, as saying the eight ships involved ‘will probably play a role in the deciding battle for Aleppo.’”
Russia supports the Syrian military, which is under the control of President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States backs the rebels fighting to remove him from power.
The Norwegian media reported that Russian officials told the military the fleet, which is expected to arrive within two weeks, was heading for the Mediterranean Sea, which borders the western coast of Syria.
All told, the flotilla, centered around the Admiral Kuznetsov, is “the most powerful naval task force to sail in northern Europe since 2014,” Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.
Sailing alongside the Kuznetsov were anti-submarine warships and other military support vessels, and photographed on the aircraft carrier’s decks were fighter jets and combat helicopters.
A Norwegian military spokesperson, while saying the monitoring of such naval activity is routine, noted the size of the Russian fleet was atypical.
“The only unusual thing is the amount of ships,” she told the BBC.
The news comes as the situation is rapidly deteriorating in Syria. Despite fresh proposals to initiate a pause to fighting in Aleppo, efforts toward a true ceasefire have cratered in recent weeks and the violence, including against civilians, has intensified.
Now, with Russia sailing its largest fleet since the era of the Cold War toward war-torn Syria, it seems the threat of all-out war between the planet’s two largest superpowers looms even larger on the immediate horizon.
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