Historic Black Sea Demining Operations Aim to Secure Grain Exports

Written by Kathrine Frich

Jul.01 - 2024 5:24 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
Black Sea Nations Join Forces to Clear War-Related Drifting Mines

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Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey launched joint demining operations in the Black Sea to enhance maritime safety, particularly for Ukrainian grain exports.

According Ziare this initiative, led by Istanbul, marks the first major collaborative effort among Black Sea nations since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The goal is to remove drifting mines in certain areas of the Black Sea resulting from the ongoing conflict.

Agreement and Objectives

Earlier this year, on January 11, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania signed an agreement to jointly combat naval mines in the Black Sea.

The Bulgarian government emphasized that these activities are not directed against any other country, aiming instead to improve cooperation and foster good neighborly relations among participants.

Both Russia and Ukraine are key grain producers, and the war has threatened the safe passage of goods. Last year, Ukraine initiated its own Black Sea export route following the collapse of the secure corridor agreement supported by Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations. This move significantly boosted Ukraine's exports and economic growth despite the risks involved.

Ukraine's Export Success and NATO Dynamics

The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure reported last week that since the maritime corridor began operating in August 2023, the country has exported 37.4 million tons of agricultural products from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi.

While Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria are NATO members, their naval forces are managing these demining operations independently of NATO to avoid escalating tensions with Russia. Since Russia's invasion, military divers from Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey have regularly defused drifting mines in their waters.

Discussions about creating a joint force to clear the Black Sea of mines were first reported in October of last year.