Mine panic in Turkey: Have mines from the Russian war drifted to the Bosphorus?

Russia's Federal Security Service had claimed on Monday that Ukrainian mines were breaking free and floating away.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul.Ilhan Ustuner/iStock

On Monday, Russia's main intelligence agency claimed that several hundred Ukrainian mines had drifted into the Black Sea after breaking off from their supporting cables, according to Reuters.

Ukraine then responded by saying that the claims were simply disinformation and an attempt to close off parts of the sea. Now, Turkey has spotted a mine floating north of Istanbul near the Black Sea making Russia the winner in this game of "he said, she said."

He said, she said

"Due to storm weather, the cables connecting the mines to anchors were broken," Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a press release dated March 19.

"Due to wind and water currents, the mines are drifting freely in the western part of the Black Sea," the FSB added. The organization further speculated that about 420 mines had been set free and were now drifting out to sea.

Ukrainian authorities responded swiftly. 

"This is complete disinformation from the Russian side," Viktor Vyshnov, deputy head of Ukraine’s state-run Maritime Administration, told Reuters. "This was done to justify the closure of these districts of the Black Sea under so-called 'danger of mines.'"

Who was right?

On Saturday however, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense shared a warning on Twitter asking vessels to steer clear as a dive team inspected a "mine-like object" found floating north of Istanbul near the Black Sea. Turkey's defense ministry further said on Twitter that it had captured the object and was now in the process of deactivating it.

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The object was first spotted near a docking area in the upper Bosphorus strait by fishermen. They then proceeded to report it to the Coast Guard, the Directorate General of Coastal Safety told Reuters.

The incident is alarming as the number of mines speculated to be floating around by Russian authorities is significant. Will any of these explode in a non-warring territory? 

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