Turkish FM Says Can’t Block Russian Warships’ Access to Black Sea

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday said they cannot stop Russian warships accessing the Black Sea via its straits on the basis of an international pact that allows vessels to return to their home base.

Ukraine Ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar on Thursday appealed to the government of Turkey to shut the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships following Moscow’s full-blown assault on Ukraine from land, air, and sea.

According to Cavusoglu, Turkey is trying to review Kyiv’s request but said Russia under the 1936 Montreux Convention has the right to return ships to home base through the Black Sea.

The Montreux Convention was signed in 1936 after Turkey, concerned over expansionist moves in the region and after negotiations with world powers including the UK, the Soviet Union, France, and others, it was agreed that Turkey would control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, as it neighbors Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia on the Black Sea.

Cavusoglu said that if Turkey decided after a legal process to accept Ukraine’s request and close the straits to Russian warships, they would only be prevented from traveling in the other direction, away from their home base into the Mediterranean.

Cavusoglu, who avoids using the word “invasion” to describe the Russian attack, said Turkey is having good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv, and also expressed its opposition against imposing economic sanctions against Russia.

Ambassador Bodnar said Ukraine had conveyed an official request to the Turkish side regarding the closure of the airspace, the Dardanelles and Bosphorus (Straits) for Russian ships.

Bodnar also called for Ankara to impose sanctions on Russian businessmen, and stressed the importance of humanitarian and financial assistance. 

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