Russia to send aircraft carrier to Syria as ceasefire hangs in balance

AS diplomats meet at the United Nations in an effort to revive Syria’s failing ceasefire, Russia has announced it is sending its only aircraft carrier to waters off Syria’s coast, state news agencies report.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said the Admiral Kuznetsov, carrying dozens of military aircraft, would be sent to the eastern Mediterranean to join other Russian ships off the war-torn country’s coast, state news agencies reported.
According to Al Jazeera, the announcement, a potential contingency plan for the failure of the ceasefire, came as the UN Security Council tried to revive the ailing truce Wednesday.
The talks took place amid heightened tensions between ceasefire sponsors the United States and Russia in the wake of surging violence, including the deadly bombing of a Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy Monday night.
US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke testily at the meeting, denouncing the “outrageous” attack on the convoy, and saying the international community had been “woefully inadequate” in Syria, where “spoilers” had repeatedly been able to derail ceasefire efforts.
But there is a way out of the carnage, Kerry insisted.
“I emphasise this to Russia — the United States continues to believe there is a way forward,” he said, saying that grounding Syrian military planes was crucial to reviving the ceasefire.
“We need to get to the prohibition of flying, my friends that would prevent Syria from doing what it so often does in the past — to target civilians.”
Speaking before Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the United States had not done enough to rein in Syrian rebels under its influence, adding that Syrian government troop withdrawals had not been matched with rebel retreats.
“We are at a make or break moment,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
“I challenge everyone to use their influence now to restore a cessation of hostilities, enable humanitarian assistance everywhere it is needed, and support the United Nations in charting a political path for the Syrians to negotiate a way out of the hell in which they are trapped.”