According to the Turkish government, Russia has withdrawn its offer to deploy four of its warships via Turkish seas into the Black Sea in response to Turkey’s request for assistance.
Turkey, a NATO member and neighbor of Ukraine and Russia on the Black Sea, has strong ties with both countries and has chosen a cautious stance on the issue in the wake of Russian soldiers’ invasion of Ukraine last week.
Ankara stated on Monday that the Bosphorus and Dardanelles waterways had been blocked since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine by a 1936 agreement.
The Montreux Convention grants Turkey jurisdiction over the straits that link the Mediterranean Sea with the Black Sea. It has the authority to restrict the passage of warships during war or if the country is threatened. Vessels returning to their home ports are excluded from the agreement.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told national broadcaster Haberturk late on Tuesday that the country had requested that Russia not send its ships through before it declared Moscow’s invasion a “war” on Sunday, allowing it to legally restrict passages under the Convention on the Rights of the Sea (UN Convention).
In a statement, Cavusoglu said, “Russia has said that four of its ships would traverse the straits on February 27-28, three of which are not registered to bases in the Black Sea.”
According to him, Turkey notified the signatories to the treaty about the development. “We urged Russia not to deploy these ships,” he said, noting that Russia responded by saying the warships would not pass the Straits.
“No one should be insulted by this since the Montreux Convention is valid today, yesterday, and tomorrow, and we will put it into effect,” stated the foreign minister. “We will execute it.”
‘At least four ships waiting.’
According to the Reuters news agency, at least four Russian ships — two destroyers, a frigate, and an intelligence craft – were awaiting Turkey’s decision on whether or not to enter the Mediterranean Sea. According to the agency, two of them, a frigate and a destroyer, had requested to go on the mission this week as well.
The United States has “expressed gratitude” for Turkey’s decision to restrict the Straits of Malacca to shipping. Ukraine’s envoy to Ankara expressed gratitude to Turkey for “carefully” executing the agreement, saying Kyiv was “grateful.”
The Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits link the Aegean Sea (part of the Mediterranean), the Marmara Sea (Turkey’s inland sea), and the Black Sea; Russia used the latter to launch an assault onto Ukraine’s southern coast.
While condemning Russia’s incursion as an “unacceptable breach of international law,” the Turkish government has carefully crafted its language not to alienate Moscow, with whom it maintains strong links in the energy, military, and tourist sectors. It has called for dialogue and has offered to organize peace negotiations in its own country of Iran.
On Tuesday, Cavusoglu reiterated that Turkey would not join its Western friends in placing economic penalties on Russia, as it has done before.
While establishing tight ties with Russia, Turkey has also supplied drones to Ukraine and inked an agreement to co-produce more, causing consternation in Moscow. It also opposes Russian policy in Syria and Libya and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014.
A new supply of Turkish drones is expected to arrive in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, a move that is certain to infuriate Russian President Vladimir Putin.