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Ukrainian naval mines adrift in Black Sea, Moscow warns

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) issued a formal maritime warning on Saturday about a dangerous situation that is developing in the Black Sea. In response to Russia’s offensive, Ukraine had placed anchor mines along its coastline, but a number have since detached from their cables and are adrift at sea, it said.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine have once again demonstrated a complete disregard for international law and for human lives, including those of citizens of the European Union,” the FSB said in a statement.

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According to the agency, after Russia launched a large-scale military operation against the country in late February, the Ukrainian Navy created a minefield outside each of the Black Sea ports of Odessa, Ochakov, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny. The FSB claims the mines deployed are for naval or river use and were produced by the Soviet Union in the first part of the 20th century.

“With the onset of stormy conditions, the cables connecting the mines with their bottom anchors began to break. The mines are now drifting freely in the western part of the Black Sea,” it said.

The situation is likely to get even more hazardous, given the southward trajectory of the surface currents in the area, the FSB has warned. “It is not possible to rule out that the detached mines will drift into the Bosphorus and further into the Mediterranean Sea,” it added.

Moscow attacked its neighbor following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of the breakaway 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 says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebellious republics by force.

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