A Distress Call to Demine the Black Sea
National Atlantic Treaty Organisation members call on other European countries to help them demine the Black Sea.
Invitation to Demine the Black of Russian Sea Mines
Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria asked other EU nations to join the demining operation in the Black Sea. The joint scheme would help get rid of Russian sea mines that Putin’s forces have planted.
According to Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry, clearing the sea of explosives would ensure sea lane safety. The operation remains open to joint actions and the involvement of mine countermeasures forces. It also includes assets of other NATO member countries beyond the Black Sea region.
“For the time being, mine countermeasure ships of the three Black Sea allied states – Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey – will participate in the Mine Countermeasures Naval Group in the Black Sea (MCM Black Sea),” said Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Todor Tagarev.
In August 2023, Turkey established the said group to ensure the security of shipping lanes in the Black Sea. Likewise, it’s a vindication against sea mine threats that emerged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
He added the war in Ukraine that Russia started to put the country’s territory in danger and threatened the security of shipping. Turkey, Bulgarian, and Romanian navies are also involved in clearing mines to lower these risks.
According to the Bulgarian government, the group’s endeavour won’t be coerced against any other country. Instead, the Black Sea’s demining operation would create improved interaction. Moreover, it will promote humanitarian relations between participants.
Sea Mine Incidents
In October 2023, a general cargo ship under the Turkey flag knocked a sea mine while traversing the Black Sea. Also, a Greek cargo ship sailing the same waters bearing a Panamanian flag encountered a sea mine in late December. The deck caught fire and injured two sailors.
Russia set up sea mines in the sea after withdrawing its fleet, to deter civilian shipping. Likewise, the move prevents Ukraine from transporting its exports and imports, in and out of the country.
Turkey said on Tuesday that it won’t allow two British-donated minesweepers to traverse its waters to go to the Black Sea. This would breach an international pact on wartime passage through the waterways. Britain donated the minesweepers to Ukraine.
The signing of the MOU between Romania, Turkey, and the Bulgarian government was slated on January 11 in Istanbul. Following the validation is the start of the operational planning process to develop detailed documents and instructions for the group’s actions.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom said in December that it would turn over two Royal Navy ships to the Ukrainian Navy to help boost its maritime operation against Russian troops. Turkey, likewise notified its allies that it won’t allow vessels to traverse its Bosphorus and Dardanelles water channels while the war in Ukraine perseveres.
Millions of Tonnes of Ukraine Cargo Exported Via Black Sea Amid Sea Mine Threats
In August, Ukraine launched the corridor, embracing the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria. Since then, Ukraine has successfully exported 15 million metric tonnes of cargo, including 10 million tonnes of agricultural goods via its Black Sea shipping corridor. It’s a major worldwide grain grower and exporter.
The country’s exportable excessive grain totals 50 million tonnes in 2023 to 2024, July to June season. Since January 8, it has already exported 19.4 million tonnes of grain.
“Over the five months of the corridor’s operation, 469 new vessels have called at our Ukrainian ports for loading,” said Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
He added there are currently 39 ships being loaded in Odesa, Pivdennyi, and Chornomorsk ports. Another 83 vessels await call at the ports to export 2.4 million tonnes of different cargoes.