3 NATO countries want to de-mine the Black Sea

In this photo provided by Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry Press Office, the container ship Joseph Schulte (Hong Kong flag) leaves the port of Odesa to proceed through the temporary corridor established for merchant vessels from Ukraine's Black Sea ports in Odesa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry Press Office via AP)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are discussing the creation of a joint force to defuse mines that are reaching their waters as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The report comes after a mine damaged a Turkish-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Romania on Oct. 5. Earlier, 40 kilometers from the Romanian port of Sulina, the Seama was also hit by a mine, resulting in the evacuation of the crew.

The three NATO member states are still working out the details, but could set up a mine countermeasures unit as early as next month, Bloomberg reports, citing two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Since it would not be a NATO operation per se, the joint maritime de-mining force will be the first major joint allied effort in the Black Sea since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. According to the two officials, the new force must be completely peaceful.

One of the goals of the mission is to show that the three countries are capable of solving this problem on their own, one of the officials said. Since the start of the war, NATO allies have increased surveillance and intelligence in the region, but not naval activity.

Russia’s war against Ukraine increasingly threatens the transport of raw materials across the Black Sea. For more than two months this year, Russia has disrupted commercial shipping by announcing military exercises that will make parts of Bulgaria and Turkey’s exclusive economic zones unsafe for shipping.

According to analysts at The Economist, the war between Russia and Ukraine will continue to hit world grain and oil markets as Kyiv and Moscow begin to block each other’s trade routes in the Black Sea. The British Foreign Office also recently said that Russia could use sea mines to attack civilian ships in the Black Sea that pass through Ukraine’s new trade route.

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