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Turkey and Romania dispatched their navy to defuse potential explosive mines in the Black Sea following reports that the weapons may be drifting from Ukraine’s shores to neighboring countries, the Washington Post reported.
Mines of unknown origin began appearing near the coasts of both countries in the past few days as the fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continues.
The disposal operations began after Russia’s intelligence service said on March 19 that poor weather caused hundreds of naval mines to detach from cables anchoring them. Russian officials warned that the mines were “drifting freely in the western part of the Black Sea,” which includes the territorial waters of Ukraine, Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria.
Ukraine previously dismissed the announcement as “complete disinformation,” saying it was a ruse to justify cordoning off parts of the Black Sea.
As of Monday, Turkey reported two mines near its waters but did not specify whether the explosive weapons belonged to Russia or Ukraine. Meanwhile, Romanian authorities said they undertook an operation to neutralize a mine in southeast Romania but also did not specify its origin.
The event has raised concerns that the crisis between Russia and Ukraine will jeopardize transportation in the Bosporus, a critical passage for global oil supplies and commerce.