UK MoD: Mines in Black Sea are "Almost Certainly" of Russian Origin
The UK Ministry of Defense advised Sunday that drifting mines remain a threat to shipping in the Black Sea, and said that it has high confidence that Russian activity set them adrift.
Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of releasing Soviet-era YaM and YarM naval mines adrift in the northern Black Sea, and three have been detected and neutralized so far.
On March 28, the Romanian Navy minesweeper Vice Admiral Constantin Balescu intentionally detonated a floating naval mine about 40 nm off Capu Midia, a Romanian military base located near Constanta. On the same day, a Turkish Navy team found and neutralized a mine near Igneada, a seaside town roughly 150 nm to the south of the Romanian Navy's discovery. On March 26, Turkish forces found and neutralized another "old type" mine near the busy entrance to the Bosporus.
"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 MoD said in a statement Sunday.
The ministry added that the long-discussed possibility of an amphibious assault on Odesa remains, but it is "likely to be increasingly high risk" for Russian forces because of the amount of time that Ukrainian defenders have had to prepare. Recent images of the waterfront in Odesa show the installation of defensive works, including jacks, barbed wire and machine gun emplacements.
Ukraine's ability to hold the Russian Navy at risk may be increasing with NATO assistance. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to provide Ukraine with unspecified coastal defense systems, potentially including the Naval Strike Missile (NSM).