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UK Defence Minister speech at Black Sea Security Conference 2024

Defence Minister, The Earl of Minto, yesterday addressed the Black Sea Security Conference in Bulgaria.

It would be remiss of me not to recognise the truly remarkable and significant effort and support Bulgaria has provided as a nation to the defence of Ukraine.

Through the export of lethal aid and arms to our allies in Kyiv, to diversifying your own energy supply away from Russia and expelling dozens of their agents masquerading as diplomats, Bulgaria has proven resolve and commitment to doing whatever is required.

Bulgaria has also played a critical role in Black Sea security. For example, I wish to highlight and commend the recent deal between Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania to clear sea mines, which will make shipping safer and increasing vital Ukrainian exports.

On behalf of the UK Government, I put on record our appreciation.

Ukraine has destroyed or put out of action 9 major vessels: a significant proportion of the Black Sea Fleet. Russian warships are unable to navigate freely for the first time since 1783, and grain exports returning towards pre-invasion levels, the successes of Ukraine in this arena are nothing short of exemplary.

That being said, we must guard against complacency.

And that starts with reminding the European and international community that the security of the Black Sea is not solely a Ukrainian concern.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Putin’s barbaric invasion has pushed up global food prices by a third; frankly, a staggering statistic, and one with further ramifications in terms of global security and stability besides.

As many of you will know, the UK is proud to have provided extensive lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, not least drones and precision Storm Shadow missiles to sink and scatter Russian warships.

But some of you may not be aware that we are also working closely with neighbouring Romania to establish the Maritime Regional Training Hub.

And, in particular, the UK is also working alongside Norway as co-founders and co-chairs of the Maritime Capability Coalition which is delivering long-term training, equipment and infrastructure support.

This Capability Coalition will ensure that Ukraine can establish and maintain its sovereignty in the naval domain, be that through traditional defence of its maritime zones, search and rescue operations along its own coastline, or in protecting its own exports by sea.

It also enables allies, through this Coalition and others, to get fully behind Ukraine’s military strategy and their Force Development Plan.

And it will help ensure our collective support is targeted where it is required most urgently.

The Coalition will also, in time, help Ukraine build a credible maritime force, that is interoperable with its allies, and a complement to NATO.

Together, we lay the foundations for a bright and secure post-war future.

By building on this support – and we must all continue to build - we can help Ukraine realise its goal to be a ‘net-exporter’ of Black Sea Security, which will strengthen us all.

Thank you.


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