Russia preparing for final assault on Aleppo, Western officials warn

A fleet of eight Russian warships, led by the aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, is currently south of Sardinia and sailing towards the eastern Mediterranean.

They are expected to arrive as early as Wednesday although other estimates predict that could slip to later in the week.

In recent days pilots on board have been practising taking off and landing on the carrier, slowing its progress slightly.

With a combination of Russian forces already based in Syria, the carrier fleet en route and a peace process all but over for now, intelligence assessments have joined the dots and concluded that Russia is preparing to bomb the Syrian rebels in a decisive campaign.

The choreography also coincides with the US election period, when the Washington political system becomes relatively ineffectual.

It is thought President Putin might take advantage of a window between the US elections on 8 November and 20 January when the new US President is sworn in.

During this time the current US administration will have little power to act.

The prospect of a mass bombing of eastern Aleppo is causing concern amongst western governments who believe it might be a repeat of the Russian bombardment of Grozny in 1999/2000.

The city was razed to suppress Chechen separatists, thousands were killed in the process.

Recently the Russian Ambassador to the US hinted that Aleppo would be destroyed like Grozny when he tweeted recent photographs of Grozny to John Kerry and Boris Johnson with the message “Grozny today is a peaceful, modern, and thriving city.

“Ain’t that a solution we’re all looking for @JohnKerry? @BorisJohnson? #Aleppo”.

Last week the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed reports as “absurd” that the Admiral Kuznetsov would be used to bomb Aleppo.

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