Britain’s Ministry of Defense plans to hand over two mine countermeasure vessels as part of a new maritime coalition
Britain will provide Ukraine with two mine-clearingships as part of a new maritime coalition, the country’s Ministry of Defense has announced. The new initiative, which also includes Norway, is said to be long-term, aiming to make Kiev’s navy “more interoperable with NATO.”
The UK has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since the escalation of its conflict with Russia in February 2022, providing its military with extensive supplies of weapons and training. According to the ministry, London has already allocated some £4.6 billion ($5.7 billion) to this end.
London will initially transfer two Sandown Class mine countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) from the country’s Royal Navy fleet. The official announcement is expected to be made by Defense Secretary Grant Shapps later on Monday.
“These minehunters will deliver vital capability to Ukraine which will help save lives at sea and open up vital export routes,” he said earlier.
According to the ministry’s statement, London and Oslo hope to make the Ukrainian Navy “more compatible with Western allies, more interoperable with NATO.”
Shapps added that the new maritime coalition would launch several more initiatives to ensure an “enduring military commitment in support of Ukraine.”
Russia has repeatedly said that no amount of Western military support would change the course of the conflict. Moscow has also consistently warned that such shipments raise the risk of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry has on multiple occasions also pointed out that Ukraine had laid obsolete Soviet naval mines along its Black Sea coast, some of which have ended up floating in open waters after being de-anchored by storms. In a statement back in July, Russian military officials warned that stray Ukrainian ordnance had been found along shipping lanes in the northwestern area of the Black Sea.
“Incompetence and a lack of responsibility on the part of the Ukrainian Navy have led to a situation in which an unidentified number of mines are now drifting… in the Black Sea, posing a constant danger to navigation,” the statement read at the time.
According to estimates from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) last spring, Kiev’s navy had planted at least 420 such mines since the start of the conflict.
In April 2022, the Turkish Defense Ministry said it had to dispatch elite underwater defense (SAS) diving teams to an area off the coast of Türkiye’s Izmit Province after a floating mine was discovered. A little earlier, two apparent stray mines were destroyed near the Bosphorus Strait and in the vicinity of the nation’s border with Bulgaria. Around the same time, Romania reported a similar find near the nation’s Black Sea shore.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has accused Russia of what he described as “creating the worst threat to international security since World War II” by laying mines as a “de facto weapon of indiscriminate action.”
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