NATO member Turkey changed its rhetoric to call Russia’s assault on Ukraine a “war” on Sunday and pledged to implement parts of an international pact that would potentially limit the transit of Russian warships from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
Kyiv had appealed to Ankara to block any more Russian ships from entering the Black Sea, from which Moscow launched an incursion on Ukraine’s southern coast. At least six Russian warships and a submarine transited Turkey’s straits this month.
However, Turkey has warned countries against passing warships through its Bosporus and Dardanelles straits
Ankara has warned all riparian and non-riparian countries not to pass warships through its Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
Cavusoglu’s remarks came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would use the authority given by the 1936 Montreux Convention pact to prevent escalation of the Russia and Ukraine war.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, NATO member Turkey controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, linking the Mediterranean and Black seas.
The pact gives Ankara the power to regulate the transit of naval warships and to close the straits to foreign warships during wartime and when it is threatened. The pact also has a clause exempting ships returning to their registered base.
Turkey on Sunday called Russia’s invasion a “war,” allowing it to invoke articles under the pact that could limit the passage of some Russian vessels.
“We implemented what Montreux says and we will do so from now on. There has been no request for passage through the straits until today,” Cavusoglu told reporters after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia and has good ties with both.
Erdogan on Monday stressed he was “very saddened” by Moscow’s aggression toward its southern neighbor, but also said Turkey could not abandon its ties with Ukraine and Russia.
He reiterated that he found the Russian invasion “unacceptable,” also highlighting that he admired the resistance of the Ukrainian government and people.
Cavusoglu also said he spoke to both Ukrainian and Russian counterparts and was pleased to hear that two countries will hold negotiations.
Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for President Tayyip Erdogan, said earlier on Sunday: “On the fourth day of the Ukraine war, we repeat President Erdogan’s call for an immediate halt of Russian attacks and the start of ceasefire negotiations”.