Jul 25 2019

Turkey sends combat boats, submarines to accompany its drillships near Cyprus

Turkish Naval Forces elements are accompanying the country's drilling vessels currently operating off Cyprus, Turkish National Defense Ministry said on July 23.

Tensions between Turkey and Cyprus have intensified in the past few months over exploration for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has sent two drillships to seas after Cyprus after the EU member began its own exploration. 

Nicosia responded by seeking the support of other EU countries against what it terms illegal Turkish activities, leading the EU to impose sanctions.

Turkey’s Naval Forces Command is providing "full and continuous protection" to the drilling vessels, with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles, watercraft, assault boats and submarines, the country’s National Defense Ministry said in a tweet, including footage of drilling ships.

Turkey says Turkish Cypriots, whose breakaway state in Northern Cyprus is only recognised by Ankara, should also get a share in the revenues from discoveries of offshore gas.