03:21 GMT25 February 2021
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    Russia has caused a stir among some Western leaders with its decision to send an aircraft carrier group to the Syrian coast, but Czech Army General Petr Pavel, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told Le Monde that the deployment should not be viewed as a "hostile" step since Moscow does not want to tarnish its global image.

    "Russia's military capabilities, as well as the country's military presence have constantly increased," General Pavel said, urging to "look beyond" these developments. "Russia wants to demonstrate that it possesses military power that must be respected and that serves a foreign policy purpose – to return to the international arena."

    As a result, the deployment of the aircraft carrier group led by Admiral Kuznetsov to the eastern Mediterranean should not be viewed as "a hostile intention," as General Pavel put it. It is a "display of Russia's global capacity and the means to conduct autonomous operations when Moscow sees fit," he explained.

    NATO's Chairman of the Military Committee, Czech Gen. Petr Pavel, rear center left, opens a meeting of NATO's Military Committee at NATO headquarters in Brussels (File)
    © AP Photo / Virginia Mayo
    NATO's Chairman of the Military Committee, Czech Gen. Petr Pavel, rear center left, opens a meeting of NATO's Military Committee at NATO headquarters in Brussels (File)

    At least 30 militants from the Jabhat Fatah al Sham including a commander who had planned an offensive in Aleppo, were eliminated as a result of airstrikes launched from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.
    © Photo : Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation
    Russia sent the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser, the Severomorsk and Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine destroyer and support vessels to the Mediterranean to conduct military exercises and strengthen capabilities. The group reached its destination on November 8.

    On November 15, Admiral Kuznetsov took part in Russia's counterterrorism operation in Syria, launching massive strikes on Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets, mainly ammunition depots and facilities aimed at producing weapons, in the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Homs.

    "I do not think that Russia's foreign policy at this moment aims at destroying the image of a constructive actor in the international arena that Moscow has tried to project. If Russia is interested in becoming a serious global player again, any act of aggression during this transition period would be adverse to this goal," he said.

    High-ranking NATO officials have been largely critical of Russia, blaming the country for ostensibly meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs and threatening its neighbors in the Baltic. Moscow has always denied these claims, saying that the bloc's expansion to the east and its initiatives close to Russia's border are detrimental to regional and global security.


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    global military capabilities, military capabilities, military power, foreign policy, Admiral Kuznetsov, NATO, Petr Pavel, Russia
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