Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said his country was working with Romania and Bulgaria after several drifting naval mines were recently discovered in the Black Sea. Russia accused Ukraine of laying hundreds of obsolete floating mines in order to prevent it from seizing its ports.
“The mines are detected in our area, not in the area belonging to Russia or Ukraine,” Akar told reporters on Tuesday. “We are cooperating with Romania and Bulgaria [on the matter].”
Akar said Turkish minesweepers and naval patrol aircraft were placed on alert. He declined to specify how many mines had been discovered so far or where they came from. “It wouldn’t be right to say if the mines were laid in Ukraine or came from elsewhere, without being sure,” he said. “Our work on the matter continues.”
The minister previously said that, on Saturday, the Turkish Navy found and deactivated an old drifting mine near the Bosphorus Strait. Two days later, the Defense Ministry reported detecting and neutralizing another mine off Igneada, a town near the border with Bulgaria.
The Romanian Navy similarly reported on Monday that fishermen spotted a mine floating around 70 kilometers (43 miles) off the coast. The Navy dispatched a minesweeper with divers on board, and the mine was safely destroyed.