Turkey defuses stray naval mines in Bosporus

Turkish forces defused a stray naval mine floating in the Bosporus on Saturday. Russia had warned that the mines it had poured into the sea off the Ukrainian city of Odessa would reach the Bosphorus.

After the Sochi Port Directorate of Russia announced that about 420 old mines laid off the coast of Odessa were broken due to the storm, the mines started to drift, and it came to the agenda that the mines could reach the Bosphorus.

Viktor Vishnov, Deputy Head of the Maritime Administration of Ukraine, argued that the claim, first brought up by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), is deliberate disinformation. Vishnov said, "This is purely disinformation on the Russian side. This was done to legitimize the closure of the Black Sea regions in question on the grounds of the 'mine danger'."

The mine, which was detected in the Bosphorus on Saturday, was defused by the Underwater Defense Teams (SAS) affiliated to the Naval Forces Command.

Within the scope of security measures, the Bosphorus was closed to bilateral ship traffic and security measures were taken. It was learned that the mine weighs 30 kilograms and is an old-style Russian-made mine. It was stated that a mine of this type could sink a ship.

"OUR COORDINATION CONTINUES"

Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar announced that they have discussed the mine with the Russian and Ukrainian authorities. Akar made inspections and inspections at the Qatar Turkish Combined Joint Force Command in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where he came as part of an official visit. Noting that the Naval Forces continues to work, Akar said:

“We talked to both Russian and Ukrainian authorities regarding the issue. Our coordination continues. The floating and flying elements of our Navy are vigilantly following the activities and continuing their work.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced that all kinds of fishing has been stopped in the Black Sea waters between Bulgaria and Kefken.

The sources of the Ministry of National Defense reported that on the morning of 28 March 2022, another mine was detected in the Igneada offshore, close to the Bulgarian border, and the Underwater Defense Teams started to intervene in the mine.

Minister Akar said, "Every notification received is evaluated at the moment and necessary action is taken. Detected mines are safely defused immediately."

On the question of "Is there a cooperation with Russia on the detection of mines", Minister Akar said, "No. The mines are detected in our area, not on the side of Russia or Ukraine. In this framework, we have cooperation with Romania and Bulgaria, which have a coast on the Black Sea. We have made the necessary coordination with the Russians regarding the arrival of our commercial ships."

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS?

Making statements to AA, Security and Terrorism Specialist Retired Intelligence Colonel Coşkun Başbuğ said that 20 mines is a very serious number and that only two of them have been reached so far.

Coşkun Başbuğ pointed out that there are questions to be answered regarding the allegation that the chains of 420 mines were broken and continued as follows:

"Russia is planning a landing operation from the Gulf of Odessa regarding the Ukraine war. It also imposes some naval blockades on this landing operation. It is said that about 15 ships have arrived there. These ships will be used for the landing operation and will be subjected to coastal artillery with frigates. Ukrainian forces on the other hand, it laid mines to stop these ships. Sea mines were also laid in the sea to stop the landing operation. What is Russia's claim? The chains of 420 mines were broken and scattered. And these 420 mines never came into contact with the Russian navy in the area? Or how did these 420 mines get straight to the Bosphorus? It's very unlikely that all of these mines will break their chains. How come the mines that break off their chains come straight to the Straits without touching nearly 15 Russian ships?"

Stating that there are 700 kilometers between the Straits and the Odessa region where the mines are located, Başbuğ said that it is necessary to ask how the mines came in 7 days, and that even with a normal boat, 100 kilometers a day cannot be traveled.

Başbuğ said, "The information I have received after this incident is that there are some requests from NATO. ‘The Black Sea is a large area, it is difficult for Turkey to clear these mines alone.’ There are requests for joint work." He also said that Turkey is based on the Montreux Convention, but it is possible to violate this contract with the mine issue.

Noting another possible scenario, Başbuğ said, "Russia, which makes most of its import-exports from the sea, may have wanted to be detained under this embargo. It should be noted that large freighters carry cereal products here. Russia accounts for a third of the world's exports, along with Ukraine. If Russia is blockaded, it will also be deprived of that revenue. The way to prevent this is to turn the Black Sea into an unsafe sea."

Considering the developments and expert comments, the question of whether there may be an outside intervention regarding the mines comes to mind.

The Black Sea is a major shipping artery for grain and oil products. It is connected to the Marmara and then Mediterranean seas via the Bosphorus, which runs through the Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city with 16 million residents, and the Dardanelles Strait in the northwest of Turkey.