Turkey won’t allow foreign minesweepers to enter Black Sea: defense minister

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday that it won’t allow foreign minesweeper ships to enter the Black Sea to defuse the drifting mines after they allegedly broke off from anchor cables near Ukrainian ports.

Turkey made the decision in accordance with the clauses in the Montreux Convention, the country’s daily Milliyet quoted the minister as saying.

Turkey attaches importance to fully implementing the convention because it is significant not only for Ankara but also for all the Black Sea countries, Akar said, adding Turkey prefers the balance around the Black Sea not to be “disturbed.”

In the past few weeks, Turkey has detected at least three mines in the waters of Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea.

Ukraine’s navy had deployed mines near the ports of Odessa, Ochakov, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny since the start of the Russian “special military operation,” Russia’s Federal Security Service said in March.

As storms broke mine anchor cables, the mines were floating in the western part of the Black Sea, it said, adding that nearly 420 mines had broken off the anchors and might drift toward Bosporus and the Mediterranean Sea by winds and currents.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side has dismissed the allegation, saying it was disinformation.

On Feb. 28, Turkey said that it will implement the Montreux Convention in the Black Sea in a way to prevent further escalation in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Ankara warned warships of both Black Sea and non-Black Sea countries not to pass through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in line with the Convention. ■

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