Turkey cannot stop Russian warships accessing the Black Sea via its straits, as Ukraine has requested, due to a clause in an international pact that allows vessels to return to their home base, the Turkish foreign minister has said.
Ukraine has appealed to Turkey to block Russian warships from passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits which lead to the Black Sea, after Moscow on Thursday launched a full-blown assault on Ukraine from land, air and sea.
Russian forces landed at Ukraine’s Black and Azov Sea ports as part of the invasion.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the straits and can limit the passage of warships during wartime or if threatened, but the request has put the Nato member in a difficult position as it tries to manage its Western commitments and close ties with Russia.
Speaking in Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was studying Kyiv’s request but said Russia had the right under the Convention to return ships to their home base, in this case the Black Sea.
So even if Turkey decided after a legal process to accept Ukraine’s request and close the straits to Russian warships, he said, they would only be prevented from travelling in the other direction, away from their home base into the Mediterranean.
“If countries involved in the war make a request to return their vessels to their bases, that needs to be allowed,” the Hurriyet daily quoted Mr Cavusoglu as saying.
Mr Cavusoglu added that Turkish…