Turkey blocks warships from Bosphorus, Dardanelles
Ankara decides to block warships from passing through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in line with the Montreux Convention, which the US "appreciates".
Turkey announced Monday it was blocking warships from the key Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in line with the Montreux Convention that gives it control over the passage of military vessels in the strategic area.
"We have alerted both countries of the region and elsewhere not to pass warships through the Black Sea," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed.
"We are applying the Montreux Convention," he added.
The 1936 Montreux Convention governs the free movement of commercial ships in peacetime through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits, but it grants Turkey the right to block the passage of warships in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits that connect the Aegean, Marmara, and Black Sea, in wartime if threatened.
For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone with Cavusoglu and expressed his country's appreciation for continuing to implement the Montreux Convention, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday.
Erdogan: "Not to abandon either Russia or Ukraine"
In the same context, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had just clarified Turkey's position as a NATO member, "not to abandon either Russia or Ukraine" and not to "cede Turkey's national interests."
"We have decided to use the Montreux Convention to prevent the escalation of the crisis," he announced after a cabinet meeting.
Ukraine requests closing the Dardanelles
Ukraine had last week officially asked Turkey to close the Dardanelles Strait -- and thus access to the Black Sea -- to Russian ships.
Turkey, which has strong ties with both Russia and Ukraine, did not immediately respond to this request.
"Russia asked us if we would apply the Montreux Convention if necessary. We told them we would apply it word for word," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned.
He added that Turkish experts had been studying the situation to assess "whether there is a state of war from a legal point of view."
On Sunday, Ankara officially deemed Russia's special operation in Ukraine as a "state of war."
In addition, Erdogan described Monday "Russia's attack on Ukrainian territory as unacceptable."
It is noteworthy that Ankara and Kiev have economic ties, and have cooperated before in the defense field, with Ukraine being a client for Turkey's drones, inking a deal as recently as February 3 to significantly expand the manufacturing of Ankara's "Bayraktar" unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UACV) in Ukraine.