The defense chief reportedly suggested explosives may have been deployed intentionally to justify sending in NATO minesweepers
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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has reportedly raised the possibility that mines discovered off his country’s coast were purposely deployed in the Black Sea as a pretext for sending NATO minesweepers to the region amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“We have doubts as to whether the mines were left intentionally,” the defense minister told members of Turkey’s Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) in a meeting last week, the Hurriyet Daily News reported on Sunday. “Maybe these mines were left within a plan for NATO minesweepers to enter the Black Sea.”
The aim of this type of scheme might be to pressure Ankara into allowing NATO warships to enter the Black Sea through the Turkish Straits, Akar said. He insisted that Ankara will abide by the Montreux Convention, which allows Turkey to regulate maritime traffic through the straits during times of war.
We will not let warships into the Black Sea. We will not allow the Black Sea to be drawn into the war.
Turkish forces have detected and defused or destroyed at least three mines since Russia began its military offensive in Ukraine in February. Many more such explosives may still be floating in Black Sea waters.
“We do not know who left the mines in the Black Sea,” Akar said. “They are Russian-made, but the issue of which country left it is under investigation. There are reports that there are around 400 mines. We talked to the Bulgarian and Romanian authorities. They also carry out monitoring.”