Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria to clear floating Black Sea mines

Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria intend to finalize an agreement in January regarding a collaborative effort to clear mines in the Black Sea, remnants of the war in Ukraine, as announced by Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Güler on Dec. 16. This initiative follows months of negotiations between the NATO allies.

Romanian Defense Ministry neutralizes a mine in the country's coast.

Reuters & Duvar English

Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria plan to sign a deal in January on a joint plan to clear mines floating in the Black Sea as a result of the war in Ukraine, Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Güler said on Dec. 16, after months of talks between the NATO allies.

Black Sea states Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria met officials from Georgia, Poland and Ukraine in April 2022 to discuss clearing the mines after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Defence ministers from the three countries also held talks on the plan at a NATO meeting in Brussels in October, and in Ankara last month as they worked to finalize the initiative.

Speaking to reporters at a meeting in Ankara, Güler said the "Trilateral Initiative" would only include Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria for now, and their defense ministers planned to hold a signing ceremony in Istanbul on Jan. 11.

"Due to the Ukraine-Russia war, there are mines placed in both Ukrainian and Russian ports. These untangle sometimes and reach our straits due to the current," Güler told journalists.

"Our mine-clearing vessels will carry out constant patrols to the point where Romania's (sea) borders end," he added.

Britain said on Dec. 11 it would transfer two Royal Navy minehunter ships to the Ukrainian Navy, as it sets up a new maritime defense coalition alongside Norway to help strengthen Ukraine's sea operations.

In March 2022, Turkey's Defense Ministry announced that a drifting mine had been detected and destroyed off the coast of İğneada near the Bulgarian border. Around the same time, the Romanian Defense Ministry also announced that a mine had been detected and neutralized at the country's coast.

Turkey, which maintains good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, is also working with the United Nations, Ukraine, and Russia to revive the Black Sea grain initiative which Moscow quit earlier this year, though there have been no public signs of progress on those talks.