Key Reason Why Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov Does Not Take Part in Aleppo Operation

 

 Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters off the coast of Northern Norway on October 17, 2016.

   The Admiral Kuznetsov-led aircraft carrier group has “deliberately” refrained from participating in an operation to free eastern Aleppo, the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily asserted, saying that Russia does not want its strikes to inflict civilian casualties.

   “Russia is not interested in carrying out a large-scale campaign in Aleppo, since massive airstrikes could lead to massive civilian casualties. For its part, extremist groups and anti-Russian forces could use them to their own benefit, which will have opposite political and social implications,” the media outlet explained.

    The largely unexpected outcome of the recent presidential election in the United States has also been named as a factor.

   “More importantly, relations between Russia and the United States have once again changed following Trump’s victory. At this stage Russia all the more does not want any trouble with regard to civilian casualties on the Syrian battlefield and other issues that could complicate bilateral relations,” the newspaper noted.

   People’s Daily further pointed out that the war in Syria has not reached a crucial point yet. The publication suggested that Russia hopes to weaken terrorist groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by launching strikes against targets spread across multiple regions, waiting for the right time to join the campaign to liberate Aleppo.

   Russia sent the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser, the Severomorsk and Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine destroyers and support vessels to the eastern Mediterranean to conduct military exercises and increase its counterterrorism capabilities in Syria. The group reached its destination on November 8.

   Admiral Kuznetsov entered battle for the first time in the ship’s history seven days later, on November 15. The Sukhoi Su-33 carrier-based multirole fighters carried out airstrikes against Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets in the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Homs following comprehensive reconnaissance, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

    As part of this operation, the Russian military eliminated Abul Baha al-Asfari, an al-Nusra Front field commander who was in charge of several offensive operations in the province of Aleppo. <br>

    The Sukhoi Su-33, based on Admiral Kuznetsov, took part in another massive airstrike against militant targets in Syria on November 17, focusing on command centers, ammunition depots, military hardware and facilities used to produce weapons. The Russian Defense Ministry emphasized that all targets were verified through several intelligence channels, while unmanned aerial vehicles were monitoring the operation.

“High precision airstrikes helps to minimize civilian casualties during large-scale operations. At the same time Russia needs to test its weapons and military equipment,” People’s Daily suggested. The country “has introduced multiple types of military hardware [during its counterterrorism operation in Syria] and has carried out high precision attacks to test efficiency and performance characteristics of its weapons.”

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Aircraft of Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov Carrier Group Start Flights

 

 Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D fighters aboard the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (File)

   Sea-based jets of the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov which arrived in the Syrian coast heading a group of the Russian Northern Fleet’s squadron started flights, Commander of the ship Sergei Artamonov said.

   They jets are practicing interaction with one of the coastal airfields, he added.

 

“The flights are conducted from the deck of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser, interaction with a coastal airfield is being worked out. The flights have been carried out almost on a daily basis for four days,” Captain 1st Rank Artamonov told Vesti v Subbotu news program on Rossiya-1 TV channel.

   October 15, Russia’s Northern Fleet’s press service said that a group of warships headed by the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov accompanied by the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser, the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine destroyer, and support vessels was sent to the Mediterranean to hold drills and strengthen capabilities.

    Meanwhile, the commander of the Pyotr Veliky guided missile cruiser Vladislav Malakhovsky said that no foreign ships have approached the Russian squadron.

   “No one is flying over us. Everybody avoids approaching closer than 50 kilometers, knowing well about the power and impact force of the two cruisers,” he said speaking about Admiral Kuznetsov and Pyotr Veliky cruisers.

Russian navy to attack Aleppo militants on Wednesday: Defense Ministry source

 

 

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Russia’s Mediterranean-stationed naval group will launch a major offensive against militants near Syria’s divided city of Aleppo on Wednesday, says a Russian Defense Ministry source.

 

The offensive will be headed by the Russian navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, with the support of the Peter the Great warship and other military ships, RT reported the source as saying on Tuesday.

 

Jets from the ships will be taking off “in the nearest hours” and will hit militant targets stationed on the far outskirts of Aleppo, while long-range projectiles, including Kalibr cruise missiles, will be launched from the ships and accompanying submarines.

 

 

 

The source stressed that that attacks will be carried out in areas where there is no civilian presence.

 

“The strikes will avoid the city of Aleppo to prevent civilian casualties, because terrorists continue to use city residents as human shields,” the source said.

 

The attacks are aimed at blocking the entry of more terrorists into the city, which has been divided since 2012 between government forces in the west and the militants in the east.

 

 

Syrian government forces flash the V-sign as they hold a position in Aleppo’s 1070 district on November 8, 2016, after seizing it from militants. (Photo by AFP)

 

“The group’s main goal is to carry out missile strikes on terrorists outside of Aleppo that are attempting to get into the city,” he added.

 

Last week, Russia announced that fleet of warships headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov had reached the Mediterranean Sea and was preparing for an anti-terror offensive.

 

In July, Russia said that the flagship, classified by Moscow as a heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser (TAVKR), will be carrying 15 Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jets and Mikoyan MiG-29K/KUB fighters, and around 10 Kamov Ka-52K, Ka-27, and Ka-31 choppers.

 

 

Militants prepare to fire a home-made mortar launcher during a major assault on Syrian government forces West of Aleppo city on October 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

 

Russia started its military campaign in Syria on September 30, 2015, based on a request from the Syrian government.

 

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

Admiral Kuznetsov Carrier Group Saved Syria From US Cruise Missile Strikes

 

 Transit of Russian Northern Fleet aircraft carrier group through the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea

    Moscow’s decision to send a fleet of warships, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, to the eastern Mediterranean may have saved the Syrian military from getting bombed by the US, according to military expert Vladimir Evseev.

    Speaking at a press conference at the Rossiya Segodnya news agency press center in Moscow, Evseev, the deputy director of Russia’s CIS Institute, pointed out that Washington had only recently considered the possibility of attacking Syrian government forces, using the pretext of a UN report which alleged that Damascus had used chemical weapons.

   “We recently lived through a very important milestone which many people did not even notice,” the analyst suggested. “Why was the question raised of the Syrian Army’s alleged use of chemical weapons? The stage was being set for [US] ship-based cruise missile strikes. According to some reports, such a decision was in play…[Western] public opinion was actively being prepared for it.”

   But the entry of a major Russian flotilla, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, into the Mediterranean may been the essential element needed to cool the Pentagon’s appetites, Evseev added.

    “The presence of our ships [between Algeria and Italy] excludes the possible deployment of a similar NATO naval group in the area. Factually, our ships have closed Syria off. The Russian ships did not appear where they are by accident, and eliminated the possibility of launching cruise missiles from that direction.”

    The analyst also recalled that earlier, S-300 systems “were deployed in Tartus” with similar goals in mind, given that they are “capable of addressing not only air-based threats, but ballistic targets as well.”

    Last week, the contents of a leaked report submitted to the UN Security Council blamed the Syrian government for a chemical attack in Idlib in 2015. Damascus vehemently denied the charges, citing the terrorists’ own regular use of poison gas. Moscow, meanwhile, stressed that more serious evidence would need to be presented before such serious accusations could be leveled. Why Does Media Cover Up War Crimes of ‘Rebels’ in Aleppo?

    The US and NATO allies, already engaged in a campaign to demonize Syria and Russia over the fight for Aleppo, used the report to pile on to other charges that Damascus and Moscow were responsible for ‘war crimes’ in their operation to liberate Syria from armed militants and jihadists.

    Commenting on the military situation in Syria, Evseev suggested that together with the liberation of Aleppo, the Syrian military and their Russian allies must make it a priority to surround Nusra Front terrorists in Idlib. “The terrorists must be destroyed, but most likely a process of squeezing them out will take place,” he admitted.

   If forced to leave Idlib, “the only place for them to go will be Turkey. And here, I would recommend that our Western partners, who currently advise us how to fight in Aleppo, take a moment to think about what will happen to the Idlib militants who end up in Turkey,” the expert noted. “From here, it’s likely that they can then be expected to pay a visit to Europe. This is what Western nations should be thinking about, instead of putting a spoke in the wheel and doing everything possible to interfere in the operation to liberate Aleppo and other Syrian territories.”

   As far as the situation in the city of Aleppo is concerned, Evseev stressed that “if we continue to wait and prolong humanitarian pauses, there will be no people left in Aleppo. Without air support, losses are too high. It’s necessary to free the city quickly, and to think less about the West thinks about it.”