The government of Turkey has announced it will block Russian warships from entering the Black Sea based on the Montreux Convention, a 1936 pact that allows the country to control its Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which together form a strategic corridor between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “war”, indicating that the Montreux Convention, whose signatories include France, Germany, Greece, Japan and Britain, allows Turkey to close those waterways to warships when it is at war or threatened.
“There are not a couple of airstrikes now. The situation in Ukraine is officially a war,” Cavusoglu said in an interview with CNN Turk.
The development came as the government of Ukraine asked Turkey last week when Russia started invading the country, not to let Russian ships enter the Black Sea.
According to Oleksiy Arestovich, deputy head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, at least six Russian warships and a submarine have passed through Turkey’s straits this month.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu said that Turkey cannot prevent all Russian warships from accessing the Black Sea, because a clause in the pact exempts ships returning to their bases.
“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,” Cavsolgu said.
The situation had gotten worse after Russian President Vladimir Putin in an unprecedented move ordered his nuclear deterrent forces to be on alert as international tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had increased.
Putin termed the move, which means the country’s nuclear weapons are prepared for increased readiness to launch, was in response to NATO powers’ making what he called “aggressive statements.”
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