21.11.2023 09:09

Three NATO members are preparing a joint special operation to clear the Black Sea of mines, — Bloomberg

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21.11.2023 09:09

NATO members Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are nearing an agreement to create a joint force to demine their parts of the Black Sea following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The three countries' deputy defence ministers are set to meet in Ankara on Wednesday to try to finalize details of the demining unit, according to three people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is not public. It is unclear whether a final agreement will also be signed after the two-day meeting, one of the sources said.

The defence ministries of Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria did not comment.

The meeting comes just days after Turkey’s Navy Chief Admiral Ercument Tatlioglu expressed opposition to the presence of naval assets in the Black Sea from other NATO allies, including the US, saying they could further fuel tensions in the region.

If agreed, the mine-sweeping force wouldn’t be considered a NATO operation but would be the first major combined action of Black Sea allies since Putin ordered the war against Ukraine in February 2022.

The coalition is intended to be entirely peaceful and tackle a threat to a major trade route, especially for grains, and to energy-exploration vessels in the area. While Tatlioglu said Turkey is able to provide security in the Black Sea, a senior US State Department official reinforced the need for a “secure and interconnected Black Sea region.”

Information about demining in the Black Sea appeared at least a month ago. It was reported that the representatives of the defence ministries of the three countries had met and that the Romanian and Bulgarian navies had already deployed a minesweeper group to some routes in the Black Sea.

IC UAC according to Bloomberg

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