At Turkey’s request, Russia canceled an attempt to bring four of its warships into the Black Sea through Turkish seas, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who added that the decision was made before Ankara closed the straits over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey, a NATO ally, shares a Black Sea border with both Ukraine and Russia and enjoys strong relations with both. Ankara announced on Monday that it had closed the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in accordance with a 1936 deal, allowing it to prevent some Russian boats from passing through. Vessels returning to their bases are exempt from the agreement.
Cavusoglu told Haberturk late Tuesday that Turkey had asked Russia not to send ships through before declaring Moscow’s incursion a “war” on Sunday, giving it the authority to restrict movements under the Montreux Accord.
“Russia has stated that four of its ships, three of which are not registered to Black Sea bases, will pass the straits on February 27-28,” Cavusoglu added. “We told Russia not to deploy these ships, and they claimed they wouldn’t cross the straits.”
“No one should be aggrieved by this because the Montreux Convention is in effect today, yesterday, and tomorrow,” he stated.
According to Reuters, at least four Russian ships – two destroyers, a frigate, and an intelligence craft – are waiting for Turkey to decide whether or not to cross the Mediterranean. A frigate and a destroyer, respectively, had requested to travel this week.
While condemning Russia’s invasion as an intolerable breach of international law, Turkey’s rhetoric has been carefully crafted so as not to alienate Moscow, with whom it has close energy, defense, and tourism links. It has volunteered to hold peace talks and has urged for dialogue.
On Tuesday, Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey’s refusal to join its Western friends in putting economic penalties on Russia.
Turkey has sold drones to Kyiv and negotiated a pact to co-produce more while building tight ties with Russia, angering Moscow. It also opposes Russia’s policy in Syria and Libya, as well as the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, announced on Wednesday that the government is expecting another shipment of Turkish drones, a decision that is likely to enrage Russia.