Turkey restricts Russian Navy access
Turkey is set to restrict the access of Russian warships to the Black Sea over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.
“It is not a couple of air strikes now, the situation in Ukraine is officially a war... We will implement the Montreux Convention,” the official told CNN Turk in a live interview. “Turkey will implement all provisions of Montreux Convention in a transparent manner,” he added.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which regulates the Black Sea straits, Turkey is able to close the straits for military vessels of any nations at a formal state of war, as well as when it feels itself threatened with an imminent war. The country cannot shut down the straits completely, however, unless it is itself in a state of war.
Ankara will still allow military vessels, returning to their home ports to pass through the straits, Cavusoglu noted. “There should not be any abuse of this exemption. Ships that declare returning to their bases and passing through the straits should not be involved in the war,” the diplomat said.
Kiev has repeatedly urged Ankara to shut the straits down for Russia, despite neither side of the ongoing conflict formally declaring war. Russia launched the large-scale military operation in Ukraine on Thursday, citing the need to protect the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics from an allegedly looming all-out assault by the Ukrainian troops. Ukraine slammed the attack as “unprovoked.”
Kiev has denied seeking to attack the republics that broke away from Ukraine following the 2014 Maidan coup and ousting of the democratically-elected government of the country. Moscow formally recognized the republics as independent states on Monday, signing bilateral friendship treaties with them and pledging military assistance.