Russian ship joins anti-smuggling operation in Black Sea
The Zheleznyakov minesweeper has joined a Turkey-led international operation to deter illegal trading and smuggling on the Black Sea, the Russian Navy's spokesman said Wednesday.
In March 2004, Turkey proposed a new security initiative, Black Sea Harmony, as a move to improve communication and monitor suspicious vessels, and has recently invited other littoral states, including Russia and Ukraine, to participate in the operation.
"The operation is aimed at stopping illegal trading and smuggling along major Black Sea routes. The Russian ship will perform tasks in designated sectors," the source said.
The operation does not permit the use of force against suspect ships, but participating countries will be allowed to board and inspect vessels after gaining the approval of the captain or the country owning the ship, the spokesman said.
Some countries consider Black Sea Harmony an attempt by Turkey to maintain its dominance in the area by preventing NATO from extending its influence into the Black Sea region. NATO currently runs Operation Active Endeavor, which is a similar initiative covering the Mediterranean.