The Russian jump carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which is deployed off Syria for the bombing campaign against rebel positions in Aleppo, has lost a second fighter plane to a failed landing attempt.
A Sukhoi Su-33 "skidded off the deck" during landing "because the cable of the arresting device broke," the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
"The pilot ejected and was immediately brought aboard . . . his life is not in danger," the ministry added. "The ship-based aviation continues its flights."
The Su-33 crash may be the Kuznetsov's second related to a broken arrestor cable. In last month's incident, a MiG-29K crashed during an emergency landing, and reports indicated that the aircraft ran out of fuel while waiting for the crew to clear a broken cable off the deck.
Defense analyst Pavel K. Baev of the Peace Research Institute Oslo told the Washington Post that the string of accidents reflects a mismatch between the Kuznetsov's capabilities and its current mission. “This carrier was never designed for projecting power on shore,” he said. “The fact of the military matter is that this deployment adds nothing, just absolutely nothing.”
The aging Kuznetsov lacks a catapult for launching, and relies on a jump-ramp to get aircraft off her decks. This means that its fighters have to take off with a partial load of fuel and weapons.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax that the pilots' job is "very intense, hard, heroic," but he did not indicate any plans to change the Kuznetsov's flight operations due to the crashes.
Russia calls for rebels to retreat
On Monday, the Kremlin called on all rebels in the beseiged eastern side of Aleppo to depart or face destruction. State-controlled outlet RT reported statements by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who said that any armed factions which remain in Aleppo will be considered "terrorists" and treated accordingly.
Lavrov denounced a proposal for a renewed ceasefire in the city. "There is absolutely no doubt that [a ceasefire] would surely be used for regrouping and rearming the extremists and would slow down the liberation of eastern Aleppo from them,” he said.
Representatives of rebel factions informed AFP that they have no plans to depart the area.
Lavrov did not immediately specify how the ongoing Russian and Syrian government assault on eastern Aleppo would change after a blanket "terrorist" designation for the remaining rebels.
Over 70 nations, 200 NGOs and the Secretary-General of the United Nations all assert that the Russian air campaign already disregards the risk of civilian casualties and employs indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas.