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Turkiye, Romania, Bulgaria initiate joint operation for Black Sea demining

Turkiye, Romania, Bulgaria initiate joint operation for Black Sea demining Photo: Ministers of Defense of Turkiye, Romania and Bulgaria during the signing of the memorandum (Getty Images)

On Monday, July 1, Turkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria launched a joint operation in the Black Sea to search for mines, aimed at enhancing maritime safety, especially for Ukrainian grain exports, according to Bloomberg.

The initiative, led by Istanbul, aims to neutralize drifting mines in certain areas of the Black Sea due to war.

Last year, a Russian missile strike near Odesa hit a commercial vessel, resulting in the death of the captain and injuries to others. A ship chartered by agricultural giant Cargill Inc. was also damaged by an explosion while sailing from a Ukrainian port in the Black Sea in November.

In March, Ukraine stated that exports from its Black Sea ports had nearly returned to pre-war levels despite repeated attacks and disruptions following Russia's full-scale invasion. However, ports around Odesa continue to face frequent strikes from Russia, disrupting operations.

Since opening the maritime corridor in August 2023, Ukraine has exported 37.4 million tons of agricultural products from ports in Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi.

Black Sea demining

In efforts to ensure maritime safety in the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkiye have joined forces to establish a demining group. This initiative, originating in January 2024, marks a significant step in hunting sea mines posing a threat to peaceful navigation, particularly for Ukraine's grain exports.

On January 11, defense ministers of the three countries officially solidified their commitment by signing a memorandum in Istanbul. The signatories - Turkiye's Defense Minister Yasar Guler, his Romanian counterpart Angel Tilvar, and Bulgaria's Deputy Defense Minister Atanas Zapryanov - demonstrated their commitment to cooperation in securing the Black Sea.

The creation of this demining group is a response to increased risks associated with military activities in the region. Drifting sea mines in the waters of the Black Sea pose a serious threat to commercial vessels and humanitarian missions aimed at delivering food to regions in need.