U.K. warships are monitoring a Russian aircraft-carrier group sailing past Britain’s eastern coast to the Mediterranean Sea to supplement President Vladimir Putin’s forces in the region, as international condemnation mounts of Russia’s military campaign in Syria.
The deployment signals Putin’s determination to assert Russian interests as U.S. and European leaders accuse him of war crimes and dangle the threat of sanctions in response to the bombing of Aleppo by Russian warplanes.
Putin floated a possible extension of a cease-fire for the besieged Syrian city during a late-night meeting in Berlin on Wednesday with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she portrayed as testy. Merkel and Hollande will meet again in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit of the EU’s 28 leaders that will consider a common response to Russia’s actions in support of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
“We must show a robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression,” U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters as she arrived for her first summit. While Britain is leaving the EU, until it does, “it’s vital that we work together to continue to put pressure on Russia to stop its appalling atrocities, its sickening atrocities in Syria,” she said.
May’s comments hint at the growing outrage over the bombing by Russian and Syrian forces of Aleppo, where some 275,000 inhabitants remain trapped.
Syria’s government opened two crossings for fighters who want to leave the rebel-held eastern part of the contested city, a day after announcing a three-day humanitarian pause to its offensive.
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