Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has warned the international community about passing of warships through the country’s straits since the war between Russia and Ukraine started.
He said that Ankara has been implementing an international pact on naval passage to the Black Sea. Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits that connect the Mediterranean and Black seas and can limit the passage of warships during wartime or if threatened.
Turkey has not yet received any requests from any countries for warships to pass the Turkish straits since the Russian-Ukrainian war began last week, Cavusoglu said, in remarks quoted by state-run Anadolu agency.
Kyiv last week asked Ankara to activate the international pact and prevent the transit of Russian warships from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
The Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits connect the Aegean, Marmara and the Black Sea, the latter from which Russia launched an incursion on Ukraine’s southern coast.
The 1936 pact gives Ankara the right to bar warships from using the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus during wartime and in case of threats to Turkey.
At least six Russian warships and a submarine have reportedly transited the Turkish straits this month.
Cavusoglu’s announcement came shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on the same day his government 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”.
He reiterated that Turkey will not give up on its relations with either Russia or Ukraine.
“We will not compromise our national interests,” he said, “but we will not neglect regional and global balances. We say that we won’t give up neither Ukraine nor Russia.”
A member of NATO, Turkey has sought to balance its Western commitments as well as its close ties to Moscow.
Erdogan considers “Russia’s attack on Ukrainian territory as unacceptable” and called for good faith negotiations from all sides.