Turkey Rejects Russian Warships From Entering Its Straits
TURKEY - Turkey has rejected Russian warships from entering the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, according to Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 1st. In an interview with Turkish television channel Habertürk TV, Çavuşoğlu stated that Russia had requested to return four warships to the Black Sea through the straits between February 27th and 28th.
The request had been made before Turkey had recognized Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an act of war, which is a legal requirement that would enable Turkey to implement that 1936 Montreux Convention which would allow it to close its straits in the event of a war.
Çavuşoğlu stated that "[Still], Ankara did not allow three of the ships to enter the Black Sea because they were not registered to a Russian base there. Russia did not send the warships upon Turkey's friendly request".
Although the convention g ives Turkey the ability to ban warships from using the straits during war time, there is a clause that exempts vessels returning to their registered base. Çavuşoğlu warned however that no abuses of this clause should be carried out.
On February 27th he had stated "Ships that declare returning to their bases and passing through the straits should not be involved in the war".
"Nobody should be offended by this [Turkish rejection of Russian warship entry into Black Sea] because the Montreux Convention is valid today, yesterday, and tomorrow, so we will implement it" he stated.
Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey does not have to take sides in this war. "On the contrary, we are a country that can establish an equal dialogue with both sides to end it. We cannot afford to take sides".
Çavuşoğlu also said that Turkey has no intention of joining the international sanctions against Russia due to its war with Ukraine and clarified this by reiterating Turkey's stance.