Turkey cannot prevent Russian warships from entering the Black Sea due to a pact

The Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet salvage tug EPRON sails in the Bosphorus, en route to the Black Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, February 17, 2022. Photo: Reuters

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The Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet salvage tug EPRON sails in the Bosphorus, en route to the Black Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, February 17, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Turkey cannot prevent Russian warships from accessing the Black Sea through its strait, as requested by Ukraine, due to a clause in an international pact that allows ships to return to their home port, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Ukraine has called on Turkey to prevent Russian warships from crossing the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits that lead to the Black Sea, after Moscow launched a full-scale assault on Ukraine from land on Thursday, l air and sea.

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Russian forces landed in Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov as part of the invasion.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey controls the strait and can limit the passage of warships in times of war or under threat, but the request put the NATO member in a difficult position then that he tries to manage his Western commitments and his close ties with Russia. .

Speaking in Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was considering Kiev’s request, but said Russia had the right under the Convention to bring the ships back to their homeport , in this case the Black Sea.

So even if Turkey decided, after legal proceedings, to accept Ukraine’s request and close the strait to Russian warships, he said, they would only be prevented from traveling to the other direction, far from their home port towards the Mediterranean.

“If the countries involved in the war make a request to bring their ships back to their bases, it must be allowed,” Cavusoglu was quoted by the Hurriyet daily as saying.

Turkey’s balancing act

Cavusoglu added that Turkish legal experts were still trying to determine whether the conflict in Ukraine could be defined as a war, which would allow the convention’s mandates to be invoked.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, said Friday that Kiev was waiting for a “positive response” from Ankara to its request.

Cavusoglu also reiterated Ankara’s opposition to imposing economic sanctions on Russia, a stance that sets Turkey apart from most of its NATO allies who have already announced such measures.

Turkey has good relations with Russia and Ukraine. He said the Russian attack was unacceptable and that he supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but avoided using words such as “invasion” to describe what is happening.

Ankara continued its cooperation with Moscow in defense and energy, but also sold drones to Ukraine and signed a deal to co-produce more. He also opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Sharon P. Juarez