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14 Jul, 2023 18:10

Russia warns of ‘mine threat’ in Black Sea

A stray Ukrainian device has reportedly been discovered near a shipping lane
Russia warns of ‘mine threat’ in Black Sea

The Russian Defense Ministry has issued a warning after a Ukrainian mine was discovered near shipping lanes in the northwestern area of the Black Sea.

In a statement issued on Friday, Moscow urged all vessels to be aware of the potential danger posed by naval mines, citing a warning from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The stray mine was laid by Ukrainian forces early last year during “chaotic mining activities in the coastal area of the Black Sea,” the Defense Ministry said, adding that Kiev’s troops had “paid no attention to maritime navigation security.”

“Incompetence and a lack of responsibility on the part of the Ukrainian Navy have led to a situation, in which an unidentified number of mines are now drifting… in the Black Sea, posing a constant danger to navigation,” it said.

Kiev has yet to comment on the situation.

Stray mines have been discovered in the Black Sea on a number of occasions since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. In April 2022, the Turkish Defense Ministry said it had to dispatch elite Underwater Defense (SAS) diving teams to an area off the coast of Türkiye’s Izmir province after a floating mine was discovered.

Earlier, two other apparent stray mines were discovered and destroyed by Turkish specialists – one near the Bosphorus Strait and another near the nation’s border with Bulgaria. In March 2022, the Romanian military also discovered and destroyed a mine floating near the nation’s Black Sea shore.

Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of laying mines in the Black Sea since the start of the conflict. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky accused Russia of what he described as “creating the worst threat to international security since World War II” by laying mines as a “de facto weapon of indiscriminate action” back in April 2022.

Moscow denied Kiev’s accusations. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in spring 2022 that the Ukrainian Navy had placed around 420 “obsolete” sea anchor mines outside several of its ports. Some of these mines later detached from their cables and were on the drift, it added.