Marine traffic through Bosporus unaffected by mines: Defense minister

The Turkish army is continuing to stay vigilant against the naval mines in the Black Sea, the defense minister has said, stressing that marine traffic through the Bosporus is not affected by the drifting sea mines and runs as usual.

"We have strong means in the fight against the mines. We have speedily mobilized them. We have raised the alarm status of our mine hunting vessels, maritime patrolling planes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and SAS commandos. We are closely following the developments," Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters following a cabinet meeting late April 12.

Akar said necessary actions are taken when a mine is spotted in the Black Sea, recalling that the Turkish army has destroyed three naval mines in the past days. There are concerns that hundreds of naval mines are drifting in the Black Sea towards the Bosporus as one of the consequences of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

It is impossible to confirm the speculations about the number of mines and from where they are coming, Akar said, noting, "What we can do is to continue to stay vigilant."

"The mines are destroyed after they are moved to a secure place and without damaging the environment. There is no problem concerning the sea traffic. It runs in a normal way," he added.

On a question about the plans to evacuate civilians from Mariupol city of Ukraine, where heavy clashes between Ukrainian and Russian armies have left tens of thousands of people stranded, Akar said Turkey is in constant contact with both sides over the matter.

"We, as Turkey, have taken and continue to take all the measures for the safe evacuation of the people from there, including assigning a ship as well. We are waiting for some positive developments in the coming days,"...

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