Ukraine Accuses Russia Of Planting Mines In Black Sea As Concern Over Shipping Grows
Ukraine has claimed that the Russian military has been laying mines in the Black Sea along vital shipping routes.
On Wednesday Ukraine accused Russia of planting mines in the Black Sea, stating that some of those munitions had to be defused off Romania and Turkey as they posed a risk to the vital merchant shipping routes in the region.
The Black Sea is a major shipping route for oil, oil products, and grain. Its waters are shared with Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey, as well as Russia and Ukraine.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, in its so-called "special operation" their military took control of the waterways.
Over the past few days, specialist military diving teams from Turkey and Romania have been involved in defusing stray mines that have arrived in their waters.
Ukraine's foreign ministry said that Russia was using naval mines as "uncontrolled drifting ammunition".
In a statement, they said, "It was these drifting mines that were found March 26-28, 2022, off the coasts of Turkey and Romania."
The ministry added, "the deliberate use by Russia of drifting sea mines turns them into a de-facto weapon of indiscriminate action, which threatens, first of all, civil navigation and human life at sea in the whole waters not only of the Black and Azov Seas, but also the Kerch and Black Sea Straits".
Earlier this month, Russia's intelligence agency accused Ukraine of laying mines in an attempt to protect ports, stating that several hundred of them had broken from cables and simply drifted away. Ukraine dismissed this accusation and called it "more disinformation and lies from the Russians."
An official from the Ukrainian foreign ministry told Reuters that the sea mines were of the "R-421-75" type, which were not currently in use by the Ukrainian Navy.
The official claimed that 372 of these types of mines had previously been stored at Ukraine's 174th armament base in Sevastopol and were seized by the Russian military during its invasion of Crimea in 2014.
Ukraine's foreign ministry also added, "Russia, using sea mines seized in 2014, deliberately provokes and discredits Ukraine to international partners."
Shipping officials have said that five merchant vessels have been hit by projectiles off the Ukrainian coast, resulting in one of the ships sinking and two sailors being killed.
On Tuesday, London P&I Club said, "vessels navigating in the Black Sea should maintain lookouts for mines and pay careful attention to local navigation warnings".