Daily: 09/04/2022

Лондон повідомив, яку зброю надасть Україні

Зеленський за результатами переговорів із Джонсоном закликав до «ще більшого тиску» на Росію з наданням українцям допомоги в «обороні, а також у санкціях»

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European Leaders Stream Into Ukraine to Show Solidarity

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Saturday joined the stream of European leaders showing their support for Ukraine by traveling to the nation’s capital for face-to-face meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Johnson’s surprise visit included a pledge of new military assistance, including 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems. This came a day after he promised to send an additional 100 million pounds ($130 million) of high-grade military equipment to Ukraine, saying Britain wanted to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.

Johnson also confirmed further economic support, guaranteeing an additional $500 million in World Bank lending to Ukraine, taking Britain’s total loan guarantee to up to $1 billion.

“Today I met my friend President @ZelenskyyUa in Kyiv as a show of our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine,” Johnson said on Twitter. “We’re setting out a new package of financial & military aid which is a testament of our commitment to his country’s struggle against Russia’s barbaric campaign.”

The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said “the conversation was rich and constructive,” but offered no details.

An image of the two leaders meeting was posted online by the Ukrainian Embassy in London with the headline: “Surprise,” and a winking smiley face.

The package of military aid Britain announced Friday includes more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles and precision munitions capable of lingering in the sky until directed to their target.

“Ukraine has defied the odds and pushed back Russian forces from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” Johnson said in a statement. “It is because of President Zelenskyy’s resolute leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people that Putin’s monstrous aims are being thwarted.”

As Zelenskyy makes a continuous round of virtual appearances to drum up support from lawmakers around the world, an increasing number of European leaders have decided the time is right to travel to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, for in-person talks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Kyiv on Friday, following earlier visits from the Czech, Polish and Slovenian prime ministers.

Nehammer met with Zelenskyy earlier Saturday and pledged that the EU would continue to ratchet up sanctions against Russia “until the war stops.”

“As long as people are dying, every sanction is still insufficient,” he said, adding that Austrian embassy staff will return to Kyiv from western Ukraine.

Von der Leyen, who heads the European Union’s executive branch, traveled to Warsaw on Saturday to lead a fundraising event for Ukraine. She was joined by Polish President Andrzej Duda, with Zelenskyy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appearing by video link.

At the end of the 90-minute meeting, von der Leyen said 10.1 billion euros ($11 billion) had been raised for Ukrainian refugees.

The event was held in Warsaw because more than 2.5 million of the 4.4 million people who have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began February 24 have entered Poland. Many have stayed, though some have moved on to other countries.

Convened jointly by von der Leyen and Trudeau, the event sought to attract pledges from governments, global celebrities and average citizens.

It ended with Julian Lennon singing his father John Lennon’s peace song “Imagine,” which he said is the first time he did so publicly.

Julian Lennon posted on social media that he always said he would only sing the song if it was the “end of the world.” He says it’s the right song to sing now because “the war on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy,” and he felt compelled to respond in the most significant way that he could.

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Putin Reputation ‘Permanently Polluted’ After Bucha Killings, UK’s Johnson Says

The discovery of civilian bodies in Ukrainian towns has “permanently polluted” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit to Kyiv on Saturday.

“What Putin has done in places like Bucha and Irpin is war crimes that have permanently polluted his reputation and the reputation of his government,” Johnson said, standing next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Johnson became the latest European leader to visit Kyiv this weekend after the bodies were discovered in several towns from where the Russian army retreated.  

Ukraine ‘defied odds’  

Johnson praised Ukraine for “defying odds” and rebuffing a Russian offensive on Kyiv.

“The Russians believed Ukraine could be engulfed in a matter of days and that Kyiv would falls in hours to their armies,” he said, referring to Western intelligence.  

“How wrong they were,” he said.

The Ukrainian people have “shown the courage of a lion,” he added.

“The world has found new heroes and those heroes are the people of Ukraine,” Johnson said.

After talks with Zelenskyy, Johnson vowed U.K. armored vehicles and anti-ship missiles for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy called on the West to follow the U.K. in providing military aid to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.

“Other Western democratic countries should follow the U.K.’s example,” Zelenskyy said after talks with Johnson.  

“It is because of President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s resolute leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people that [Vladimir] Putin’s monstrous aims are being thwarted,” Johnson said after meeting Zelenskyy, according to a Downing Street statement.

Military aid

Johnson set out extra military aid of 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems, “to support Ukraine in this crucial phase while Russia’s illegal assault continues,” the statement added.

That is on top of U.K. aid announced Friday of more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles and another 800 anti-tank missiles, along with “loitering” drones for “precision strikes” against the Russians.

As world powers held a fundraising round for Ukraine, Johnson also promised an extra $500 million via the World Bank.

Johnson said it had been a “privilege” to meet Zelenskyy in person on his surprise visit, which was not pre-announced in London.

“Ukraine has defied the odds and pushed back Russian forces from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” he said.

“I made clear today that the United Kingdom stands unwaveringly with them in this ongoing fight, and we are in it for the long run.”

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Росія: цензурне відомство заблокувало ще два сайти

Після початку російського вторгнення в Україну «Роскомнагляд» заблокував понад 1500 сайтівnews

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Заблокувати YouTube, «щоб під VPN зайти не можна було» – віцеспікер Держдуми

9 квітня стало відомо, що YouTube заблокував канал парламентського телебачення Держдуми

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До Києва прибув канцлер Австрії і виступив за посилення санкцій проти Росії

«Ми хочемо розширити санкції і ми будемо далі йти цим шляхом, зараз вони недостатні, бо люди гинуть», – сказав Карл Негаммер

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UN Official Calls for Localized Cease-Fires in Ukraine

United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths is calling for localized cease-fires in war-torn Ukraine to allow humanitarian aid into areas under siege and to allow trapped civilians to leave.

Griffiths this week discussed a possible humanitarian cease-fire in Ukraine with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Griffiths, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, stopped in Moscow Monday on his way to Ukraine.

He did not obtain a commitment for a cease-fire, but U.N. humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said Friday that Griffiths views the meeting as only a first step in what is likely to be a long process. Meanwhile, he said Griffiths considers it of utmost importance to get the warring parties to agree to localized cease-fires.

“It is a top priority of that is to get silencing of the guns in those cities with Mariupol being the worst-affected,” he said. “Those cities where civilians are trapped, to allow them to get to safety voluntarily, to a place of their choosing and to allow aid to get in.”  

Hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of Mariupol have been under siege since Russia invaded Ukraine more than six weeks ago.  They have been forced to hide in underground bunkers while their city was being turned into rubble by Russian strikes.

Laerke said during his visit to Ukraine, Griffiths witnessed first-hand the scenes of death and destruction in the towns of Bucha and Irpin on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv.  He said Griffiths, who saw a mass grave and dozens of destroyed building blocks in Bucha, described the sights as horrifying and called for an investigation into the atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces.

Russian troops have failed to win control of the capital, Kyiv, and have retreated.  They have shifted their focus toward capturing the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Laerke said U.N. officials hope the situation of Mariupol will not be repeated as fighting moves toward Luhansk and Donetsk.  

“People are still hunkered down in basements in Luhansk and Donetsk,” he said.  “We have in our planning convoys to go there, I understand, already next week.  If everything, again—whether that happens or not depends on the security situation.  But it will be ready to go there if we can get there.”  

Laerke said Griffiths is very worried about what might happen in the Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine. Since leaving Ukraine, Griffiths has told media he is not optimistic about a cease-fire.

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До Києва з візитом без оголошення прибув британський премʼєр Джонсон

Минулого тижня Джонсон виступив за постачання Україні зброї, яка допоможе захистити Одесу

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More Civilians Flee East Ukraine After Deadly Station Strike

Civilian evacuations moved forward Saturday in patches of battle-scarred eastern Ukraine a day after a missile strike killed at least 52 people at a train station where thousands were waiting to leave the increasingly vulnerable region before an expected Russian onslaught.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded a tough global response to Friday’s train station attack in Kramatorsk, calling it the latest sign of war crimes by Russian forces and hoping to prod Western backers to step up their response to help his country defend itself.

“All world efforts will be directed to establish every minute of who did what, who gave what orders, where the missile came from, who transported it, who gave the command and how this strike was agreed,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address, his voice rising in anger.

Russia denied it was responsible and accused Ukraine’s military of firing on the station to try to turn blame for civilian slayings on Moscow. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman detailed the missile’s trajectory and Ukrainian troop positions to bolster the argument. Western experts and Ukrainian authorities insisted that Russia launched the missile.

Ukraine’s state railway company said in a statement that residents of the country’s contested Donbas region, where Russia has refocused its forces after failing to take over the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, could flee through other train stations on Saturday.

“The railways do not stop the task of taking everyone to safety,” the statement on the messaging app Telegram said.

Watch related video by Henry Ridgwell:

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 10 evacuation corridors were planned for Saturday in hopes of allowing residents to leave war zones in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which comprise the Donbas, as well as neighboring Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian authorities have called on civilians to get out ahead of an imminent, stepped-up offensive by Russian forces. Britain’s Defense Ministry reported Saturday that Russian naval forces were launching cruise missiles to support the ground operations in eastern Ukraine, including in the port cities of Mykolaiv and Mariupol.

Photos taken after Friday’s missile strike showed corpses covered with tarpaulins, and the remnants of a rocket painted with the words “For the children” in Russian. The phrasing seemed to suggest the missile was sent to avenge the loss or subjugation of children, although its exact meaning remained unclear.

The attack came as Ukrainian authorities worked to identify victims and document possible war crimes by Russian soldiers in northern Ukraine. The mayor of Bucha, a town near Kyiv where graphic evidence of civilian slayings emerged after the Russians withdrew, said search teams were still finding the bodies of people shot at close range in yards, parks and city squares.

On Friday, workers unearthed the bodies of 67 people from a mass grave near a church, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general. Russia has falsely claimed that the scenes in Bucha were staged.

After failing to occupy Kyiv in the face of stiff resistance, Russian forces have set their sights on eastern Ukraine. Many of the civilians now trying to evacuate are accustomed to living in or near a war zone because Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 in the Donbas.

The same week Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of areas controlled by the separatists and said he planned to send troops in to protect residents of the mostly Russian-speaking, industrial region.

Although the Kramatorsk train station is in Ukrainian government-controlled territory in the Donbas, the separatists, who work closely with Russian troops, blamed Ukraine for the attack.

Western experts, however, dismissed Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s assertion that Russian forces “do not use” Tochka-U missiles, the type that hit the station. A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, said Russian forces have used the missile — and that given the strike’s location and impact, it was likely Russia’s.

Ukrainian authorities and Western officials have repeatedly accused Russian forces of committing atrocities in the war that began with Russia’s February 24 invasion. A total of 176 children have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war, while 324 more have been wounded, the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office said Saturday.

Ukrainian authorities have warned they expect to find more mass killings once they reach the southern port city of Mariupol, which is also in the Donbas and has been subjected to a monthlong blockade and intense fighting.

As journalists who had been largely absent from the city began to trickle back in, new images emerged of the devastation from an airstrike on a theater last month that reportedly killed hundreds of civilians seeking shelter.

Military analysts had predicted for weeks that Russia would succeed in taking Mariupol but said Ukrainian defenders were still putting up a fight. The city’s location on the Sea of Azov is critical to establishing a land bridge from the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine eight years ago.

Some of the grisliest evidence of atrocities so far has been found in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv, from which Russian troops pulled back in recent days. An international organization formed to identify the dead and missing from the 1990s Balkans conflicts is sending a team of forensics experts to Ukraine to help put names to bodies.

In an excerpted interview with American broadcaster CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Friday, Zelenskyy cited communications intercepted by the Ukrainian security service as evidence of Russian war crimes. The authenticity of the recordings could not be independently verified.

“There are [Russian] soldiers talking with their parents about what they stole and who they abducted. There are recordings of [Russian] prisoners of war who admitted to killing people,” he said. “There are pilots in prison who had maps with civilian targets to bomb. There are also investigations being conducted based on the remains of the dead.”

The deaths of civilians at the train station brought renewed expressions of outrage from Western leaders and pledges that Russia would face further reprisals for its actions in Ukraine. On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry tried to counter the dominant international narrative by again raising the specter Ukraine planting false flags and misinformation.

A Russian ministry spokesman, Major Gen. Igor Konashenkov, alleged Ukraine’s security services were preparing a “cynical staged” media operation in Irpin, another town near Kyiv. Konashenkov said the plan was to show — falsely, he said — more civilian casualties at the hands of the Russians and to stage the slaying of a fake Russian intelligence team that intended to kill witnesses. The claims could not be independently verified.

A senior U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military assessments said Friday the Pentagon believes Russia has lost between 15% and 20% of its combat power overall since the war began.

While some combat units are withdrawing to be resupplied in Russia, Moscow has added thousands of troops around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the country’s east, the official said.  

Ukrainian officials have almost daily pleaded with Western powers to send more arms, and to further punish Russia with sanctions, including the exclusion of Russian banks from the global financial system and a total European Union embargo on Russian gas and oil.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Saturday was the latest in a parade of top leaders from the European Union to visit Zelenskyy in Kyiv. The head of the EU’s executive arm, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, gave the Ukrainian president a questionnaire Friday that could lead to Ukraine’s membership in the 27-member-country bloc.

Zelenskyy wryly promised to fast-track a response.

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Речниця МЗС Росії заявила, що YouTube «підписав собі вирок» після блокування каналу «Дума ТВ»

YouTube заблокував канал, пославшись на правила щодо застосування санкцій

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Росія змінила командувача військ в Україні – Бі-Бі-Сі

На Заході переконані, що російським військам поставлено завдання досягти якогось успіху в Україні до 9 травня

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ГУР: російські війська перегруповуються і планують просуватися до Харкова

«Вони планують наступати в першу чергу на Харків. Вони спробують добити місто Маріуполь і лише після цього можуть спробувати ініціативно наступати на Київ»

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ОГП: псевдомеру Маріуполя повідомили про підозру в держзраді

«Псевдоголова частково окупованого міста допомагає РФ та її воєнізованим формуванням у проведенні підривної діяльності проти України в умовах воєнного стану»

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Russia Latest Country to Establish Diplomatic Ties With Taliban

Their government still unrecognized by any country in the world, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban have found a way to beat international isolation: opening diplomatic ties with neighboring countries and others, with an eye to gaining formal recognition.

In recent months, at least four countries — China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkmenistan — have accredited Taliban-appointed diplomats, even though all have refused to recognize the 8-month-old government in Afghanistan.

Last month, Russia became the latest country to establish diplomatic ties with the Taliban when its Foreign Ministry accredited Taliban diplomat Jamal Nasir Gharwal as Afghan charge d’affaires in Moscow.

“We regard this as a step towards the resumption of full-fledged diplomatic contacts,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

Although Zakharova said it was premature “to talk about official recognition of the Taliban,” the move is not sitting well in Washington, where officials are concerned it could confer undeserved legitimacy on the Taliban.

A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. and its allies “remain deeply troubled by recent steps the Taliban have taken, including steps to restrict education and travel for girls and women.”

“Now is not the time to take any steps to lend credibility to the Taliban or normalize relations,” the spokesperson said in response to a query from VOA. “This move sends the wrong signal to the Taliban.”

In the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last August, the U.S. and other Western countries shut down their diplomatic posts in Kabul. But they’ve maintained contact with the group, if only to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into the country and influence Taliban policies.

The countries that have received Taliban diplomats all maintain embassies in Afghanistan.

Ronald Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Kabul and the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, said it was a “mistake” for Russia and other nations to accredit Taliban diplomats while the international community seeks cooperation from the Taliban on a number of fronts.

“When they accredit the diplomats, then they weaken the influence of the pressure that says you have to allow girls’ education and you have to cooperate with the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to help feed people or you won’t get recognition,” Neumann said. “So what the Taliban will see is that if they pay no attention to those statements, some states will begin to move toward recognition anyway.”

Accrediting a foreign diplomat is not the same as giving formal recognition, Neumann said. But that’s not how the Taliban see it.

“In practice, this is the equivalent of recognition, but it is not enough,” said Suhail Shaheen, who has been appointed by the Taliban to serve as Afghanistan’s envoy to the U.N. “Countries must recognize the Islamic Emirate.”

Shaheen, whose appointment has not been endorsed by the U.N., told VOA that about 10 countries have “accepted” Taliban diplomats, including China, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan.

Of those, only four — China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkmenistan — have formally accredited diplomats appointed by the Taliban, according to announcements by Afghan embassies and the foreign ministries of the host countries.

But previously appointed diplomats at Afghanistan’s embassies in Iran, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia now follow the Taliban foreign ministry’s “instructions,” Shaheen said.

“We don’t have any problem with anyone who contacts the current government of the Islamic Emirate and follows its instructions,” Shaheen said via WhatsApp. “That’s what they’ve done.”

Abdul Qayyum Sulaimani, the Afghan charge d’affaires in Tehran and a holdover from the previous government, told reporters in January that he’d received a letter from Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban foreign minister, confirming his status as acting ambassador.

Representatives of the Afghan embassies in Kaula Lumpur and Ryadh could not be reached for comment.

Qatar is a “special case,” Neumann said. The Gulf state has long allowed the Taliban to operate a political office in Doha, and it represents some U.S. diplomatic interests in Afghanistan. In November, Muttaqi met with Afghan embassy staff in Doha.

The Qatar Embassy in Washington did not respond to a question about whether the Qatari government had accredited any Taliban diplomats.

Afghanistan maintains 45 embassies and 20 consulates around the world. The majority are still run by diplomats appointed by the government of former President Ashraf Ghani and have refused to work with the Taliban government.

Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan, said Taliban pressure to oust Afghan diplomats won’t work.

“No country will let them do that,” Aghbar told VOA’s Afghan Service.

Tajikistan, which maintains close ties to an anti-Taliban resistance group, is the only Afghanistan neighbor that has refused to allow Taliban officials to visit the Afghan Embassy.

Last week, a senior Taliban foreign ministry official visited an Afghan consulate in neighboring Uzbekistan “to improve and organize the consular affairs of the Afghan consulate” in the border town of Termez, according to a Taliban official.

Last month, Afghanistan’s embassy in Washington and its consulates in New York and Los Angeles shut down after running out of money.

Senior State Department Correspondent Cindy Saine and VOA Afghan Service’s Mirwais Rahmani contributed to this article.

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Chernihiv Residents Ache for Relief After Monthlong Siege

Ukraine has recaptured the northern city of Chernihiv from Russian forces. But after a rocket attack in the east killed dozens of people Friday, residents are wary, saying they are expecting they could be attacked again. VOA’s Heather Murdock has more from Chernihiv, Ukraine.

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UN Condemns Deadly Missile Attack on Ukraine Railway Station

More than 50 civilians have been killed and dozens wounded in a missile strike on a railway station in Ukraine, which Kyiv blamed on Russian forces. Henry Ridgwell’s report contains graphic images that may be disturbing to some viewers. Cameras: Henry Ridgwell, Oleksiy Merkulov, Serhiy Horbatenko.

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Німеччина може відмовитися від російської нафти до кінця року – Шольц

Канцлер також додав, що Берлін «активно працює» над тим, аби відмовитися від імпорту російського газу

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Росія заборонила роботу 15 міжнародних громадських організацій

Закриття пояснили «виявленими порушеннями чинного законодавства Російської Федерації»

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Україна очікує «глобальної реакції» на обстріл вокзалу в Краматорську – Зеленський

«Усі сили світу будуть спрямовані на те, щоб встановити похвилинно, хто й що робив, хто і які накази віддавав»

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Amid Russia-Ukraine War, Turkey Worries About Floating Mines in Black Sea

As Turkish military dive teams this week safely defused their third floating naval mine in Turkish waters since March 26, some maritime experts said the explosives still pose a threat to Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait.

On March 19, Russia’s FSB intelligence service said 420 naval mines were drifting freely in the Black Sea after breaking loose in a storm. The FSB says Ukrainian forces set the mines, but Ukrainian authorities dismissed that accusation as disinformation.

Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of planting the naval mines in the Black Sea and using them as “uncontrolled drifting ammunition.”

“If these mines were broken loose as claimed, the risk continues even in the Bosphorus [Strait],” Bora Serdar, a retired staff colonel from the Turkish Naval Forces, told VOA. “It wouldn’t be a surprise if at least a few mines went in the strait.”

A regional threat

On March 26, Turkey, a NATO member, detected the first stray mine on the Black Sea coast of Istanbul near its Bosphorus Strait. The second one was found off the coast of Igneada, near the Bulgarian border, on March 28.

Turkish authorities announced Turkish Underwater Defense teams safely detonated both mines.

“Our mine hunter vessels and naval patrolling ships are all vigilant,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on March 29, adding that Turkey is working on identifying the source of floating naval mines.

The Bosphorus Strait connects the Black Sea with the Marmara, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean seas and runs through Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul. It is a major shipping route for Black Sea countries.

Besides Turkey, Romania neutralized a mine on March 28 after fishermen first spotted it and reported it to the naval forces.

On Thursday, defense ministers of Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine met virtually at Turkey’s request to discuss the threat.

“The importance of cooperation in the Black Sea for peace, calm, and stability, including the fight against the mines, was emphasized at the meeting,” Turkish Defense Minister Akar said in a statement.

Propaganda wars

Some analysts argue that the stray mines in the Black Sea are part of propaganda wars between Russia and Ukraine.

“I think these stray mines are part of a Russian operation to create some confusion,” said Yoruk Isik, Istanbul-based geopolitical analyst and head of the Bosphorus Observer consultancy.

“Russia may have dropped a few naval mines around the Bosphorus, perhaps from somewhere close to Bulgaria, to reach the strait,” he told VOA.

According to Isik, Russia’s motivations include distracting observers from its actions in Ukraine as several countries, including the United States and Germany, accused Russian forces of committing war crimes.

Isik says that Russia also might have used the naval mines to put Kyiv in “a difficult position in the international arena as the stray mines would appear as [though] Ukraine is hindering international trade” in the Black Sea.

On the other hand, some experts think that Ukraine might have used the naval mines to prevent Russia’s actions and bring more international actors into the war, including Turkey.

Turker Erturk, a former Turkish Naval Academy commander, says that Moscow’s war plans included an amphibious operation near Odesa.

“Russia would never choose anything that would limit this operation,” Erturk told VOA. 

Ukraine’s primary goal of setting mines afloat, he speculated, would be to show that safe navigation in the Black Sea has disappeared.

“The stray mines would create a perception that there is no safe passage in the Bosphorus, an international waterway. What would this perception inevitably trigger? It would trigger an international naval force under the auspices of NATO, EU, or U.N. to go to the Black Sea,” Erturk said.

“This would lead to the ‘de facto’ violation of the Montreux Convention. It looks like a provocation to me,” Erturk added.

NATO’s London-based Shipping Centre — the official link between NATO and international merchant shipping — released an advisory Monday saying, “the threat of additional drifting mines cannot be ruled out.”

A United Kingdom Ministry of Defense intelligence update on April 3 also warned that mines in the Black Sea “pose a serious risk to maritime activity.”

“Though the origin of such mines remains unclear and disputed, their presence is almost certainly due to Russian naval activity in the area and demonstrates how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is affecting neutral and civilian interests,” the UK intelligence update said.

Turkey has control of the passage of naval vessels through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Fishing

On March 26, Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry banned fishing at night until further notice.

Fishermen say that because they are concerned about the floating mines, they assign one person to the front of their boat for mine control.

“We fear that the stray mine will hit us,” Recep Koc, who has worked as a fisherman for 38 years in Istanbul’s Sariyer district, told VOA.

“While we were watching our boat so that nothing would wrap around its propeller, we are now trying to pay attention to the mines if they crash or explode,” Koc added.

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