The discovery over the past few days of three mines in the Black Sea, far from each other, but drifting dangerously, has led to increasing concern among insurers that there could be a considerable number of such items at loose in the area.
Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the mines, which look as if they have only been in the water a relatively short while, They also appear to have drifted an awfully long way in a relatively short time.
Earlier this month Russia said that 420 mines laid by Ukraine had drifted loose. One of the first questions asked by observers was how Russia came to such a precise number.
Now Ukraine has accused Russia of planting the mines in the Black Sea. It said that some of those munitions had to be defused off Turkey and Romania.
The mines themselves are of Russian manufacture, but such mines had also been available to Ukraine, so the mystery remains.
One factor that points to Russia being the more likely protagonist is that they have effective control of the Black Sea around Ukraine’s ports. In other words, if Ukraine had laid a line of mines that had broken loose, they would have had to drift a remarkably long way, very quickly.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said this week that Russia was using naval mines as “uncontrolled drifting ammunition.” “It was these drifting mines that were found March 26th toe March 28th 2022 off the coasts of Turkey and Romania,” it said.
The ministry said “the deliberate use by Russia of drifting sea mines turns them into a de facto weapon of indiscriminate action, which threatens, first of all, civil navigation and human life at sea in the whole waters, not only of the Black and Azov Seas, but also of the Kerch and Black Sea Straits.”