Turkey bars warships from passing through key straits in bid to de-escalate Ukraine tensions

Mar 1, 2022: Turkey has blocked warships from crossing the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Strait to ease the crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes as Kyiv called on Ankara to ratify the 90-year-old international agreement and to suspend the passage of Russian warships from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. The 1936 pact gives Turkey the right to bar warships from using the Dardanelles and the Bosporus during wartime.

The vital straits of Bosphorus and the Dardanelles connect the Aegean, Marmara, and Black Seas, from which Russia later invaded the southern coast of Ukraine. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Ankara was activating the Montreux Convention and was warning both Black Sea and non-Black Sea countries not to allow warships to pass through Turkish waterways.

“We have alerted both countries of the region and elsewhere not to pass warships through the Black Sea,” Cavusoglu said. “We are applying the Montreux Convention.”

The announcement came after Turkey’s President Erdogan said they would use “authority given to our country by the Montreux Convention regarding maritime traffic in the straits in a way that will prevent the crisis from escalating”.

The President reiterated that Turkey would not give up its relations with Russia or Ukraine. “We will not compromise on our national interests, but we will not ignore the regional and global balance,” he said. He said they will not give up Ukraine and Russia.

Turkey, a member of NATO, has sought to balance its Western commitments with its close ties with Moscow, and until Sunday it had not described the situation in Ukraine as a war.

Erdogan said on Monday that he “considers Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory unacceptable” and called on all parties to negotiate in good faith.

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