Turkey discovers naval mine near EU border
A naval mine has been detected in the Black Sea off the coast of northern Turkey, near the border with Bulgaria, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
A team of sappers from the Underwater Defense (SAS) has been deployed to the area not far from the port town of Igneada to deactivate the device, the ministry said on Twitter.
Turkey had already neutralized a stray mine near the Bosphorus strait on Saturday. It was described as an “old type,” which had been used by the Soviet military during World War II.
The discovery led to a brief halt in traffic along the Bosphorus, a key transport artery connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Turkish authorities have also banned night-time fishing in the Black Sea.
Media reports at the weekend claimed that a second mine had been found and destroyed in the area.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had earlier warned that a number of antique naval mines, which it says were planted by Ukraine along the Black Sea coast in the wake of the Russian military operation in the country, have detached from their anchors due to stormy weather and drifted away.
Kiev has disputed those claims, describing them as Russian disinformation serving as a pretext to close off parts of the sea.
Russia sent its troops into Ukraine over a month ago, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it had been planning to retake the two republics by force.