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25 Jan, 2024 12:13

Türkiye unlikely to let US warships enter Black Sea – Lavrov

Ankara has assured Russia it will continue to abide by the Montreux Convention, the foreign minister says
Türkiye unlikely to let US warships enter Black Sea – Lavrov

The US will not be able to persuade Türkiye to allow access for its warships to the Black Sea amid the Ukraine conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

Speaking at a press conference in New York on Wednesday, where he was attending a UN meeting on Ukraine and the Middle East, Lavrov was asked on whether Türkiye could abrogate the Montreux Convention regulating maritime traffic via the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits connecting the Aegean and Black Seas.

The question came after Pentagon official Celeste Wallander said on Tuesday that Washington wanted to work with Black Sea powers, including Türkiye, to “move away from the state of conflict” which allowed Ankara to block warships from passing through the Turkish straits.

Earlier this month, Turkish officials cited the treaty when denying passage to the Black Sea to minesweepers donated to Ukraine by the UK.

Commenting on Wallander’s statement, Lavrov suggested that the US was trying to convince Ankara to soften the maritime regime in the straits, particularly regarding foreign military vessels entering the Black Sea.

“If this is the case, our Turkish colleagues have told us that they, as the guardians of the legacy of the Montreux Convention, will strictly abide by its provisions,” Lavrov said. He suggested that the US has stepped up diplomatic efforts on this front after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin was released from the hospital last week following two weeks of treatment for prostate cancer.

Adopted in 1936, the Montreux Convention grants commercial ships unhindered passage through the Turkish Straits. Warships must comply with a number of regulations in times of peace, while in wartime belligerents are not allowed to sail them through the straits, except when they are returning to base.

Shortly after the start of Russia’s military operation against Ukraine – which Ankara has described as “a war” – Türkiye banned all foreign states from sending their warships through the straits, repeatedly stressing that it intends to follow the rules stipulated in the convention.