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Russia has turned the Black Sea into a minefield. What should be done about this?

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The Black Sea has become a perilous minefield over nearly two years of conflict, posing a grave threat to Ukrainian civilian shipping and the export of Ukrainian grain, as well as endangering the maritime routes of neighbouring states.

In response, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania have initiated a joint effort to clear these hazardous waters, recognising the critical importance of maritime logistics to their economies. Russian aggression has seeded Ukrainian waters with explosive objects, with 14,000 square kilometers contaminated by bombs dropped both recently and since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Such actions not only provoke instability but also endanger civilian vessels traversing the Black Sea. International law prohibits targeting civilian objects in warfare, yet Russia continues to violate these principles, posing a significant challenge to accountability.

To address the escalating threat, the MCM Black Sea memorandum was signed, establishing a joint mine countermeasure group comprising NATO member states Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. These nations will collaborate to detect and destroy dangerous objects in the western Black Sea, safeguarding vital maritime routes. This initiative not only enhances regional security but also demonstrates unified opposition to Russian aggression.

Efforts to clear the mines involve advanced technologies such as unmanned vessels equipped with specialized gear for mine detection. Ukraine also contributes to demining operations using modern equipment, albeit on a smaller scale. However, the magnitude of the challenge necessitates broader international cooperation and assistance.

Looking ahead, mine clearance in the Black Sea is expected to be a prolonged endeavor, requiring the involvement of additional NATO countries post-conflict. Ukraine's navy is preparing for this task, establishing headquarters, training personnel, and acquiring specialized vessels. While victory may bring an end to hostilities, the legacy of mine contamination will persist, underscoring the importance of sustained efforts to secure the region's maritime environment.


Metis Insights: Black Sea Grain Initiative


Source: JAM News