Türkiye, Bulgaria, Romania sign Black Sea demining deal

Türkiye, Bulgaria and Romania have signed an agreement on demining the Black Sea, aiming to ensure safe waters amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

The Russian navy mined Ukraine's Black Sea coastline in the early stages of its invasion nearly two years ago.

Some of the mines have since washed up in the waters of the three countries, endangering shipping and complicating Ukraine's efforts to break through a Russian naval blockade.

Top defense officials from Türkiye, Bulgaria and Romania signed a memorandum of understanding in Istanbul establishing the Mine Countermeasures Naval Group in the Black Sea (MCM Black Sea), which will oversee demining operations.

Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Güler, Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar and Bulgaria's Deputy Defense Minister Atanas Zapryanov attended a signing ceremony at a military residence overlooking Istanbul's Bosphorus.

"It is of vital importance to be protected from security risks that war could cause," Güler said at the ceremony.

"With the start of the war, mines drifting in the Black Sea posed a threat. To overcome this, we have come this far with the joint efforts of our Bulgarian and Romanian allies," the Turkish minister added.

Güler emphasized that the initiative would involve only the ships of the three Black Sea littoral states, adding that other countries' contributions would be possible when conditions are met.

Meanwhile, the Turkish defense sources on Jan. 11 disclosed that a total of four vessels will be deployed in the Black Sea, with each ship dedicated to mine countermeasure operations from Türkiye, Romania and Bulgaria and an additional command and control vessel.

The sources noted that the initiative is exclusively open to the naval forces...

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