Moscow sends warships to the Mediterranean
Russia has sent a fleet led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to patrol the waters off the Syrian coast. Spain's decision to allow the fleet to refuel in its North African enclave of Ceuta sparked controversy. After Madrid announced that it was revising the decision, Moscow withdrew its request. The press follows the events with growing distrust.
Russia flexes its muscles
The deployment of a fleet of eight warships to the Mediterranean is just another demonstration of power by Russia, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung concludes:
“The Russian operation is a political signal. ... Although the fleet's transfer was announced months ago it is a clear indication that Moscow will not be relying on diplomacy but is getting ready for the final battle for Aleppo. This could well be the first time a Soviet-Russian aircraft carrier takes active part in a war. Putin is aware of the symbolic value of such weapons, which express the will to use military force in a global context like few others can. This is not suddenly going to turn Russia into a real superpower. But as long as the West holds back on taking a more resolute stance against him, Putin will use every chance he gets to flex his muscles like this.”
Madrid's clumsy solo approach
Commenting on Spain's earlier decision to allow Russian warships to refuel in Ceuta, El Mundo calls on the Madrid to better coordinate its actions with its Nato partners in future:
“The government was careless in this case. Firstly because it is highly questionable to grant permission to refuel and stock up on supplies to the fleet of a country whose position in the Syrian war opposes that of the Nato partners. And secondly because it was apparently done without due transparency and without promptly informing the Nato leadership. This is the only explanation for the public criticism voiced by the Nato secretary general, a figure who doesn't normally seek media attention.”