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Ukraine conflict: Turkey warns all nations not to pass through straits as it blocks passage to Black Sea

Turkey has warned all Black Sea and non-Black Sea countries not to pass warships through its Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which link the Mediterranean and Black seas, amid fierce fighting between its Black Sea neighbours Russia and Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters following a cabinet meeting on 28 February, Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey would block all warships from entering the Black Sea.

The foreign minister stated, however, that if a warship was returning to its registered base in the Black Sea, the passage would not be blocked.

“To date, there has been no request for passage through the straits [since the conflict started],” Çavuşoğlu said.

“Until today, the Russians were asking whether we would implement the Montreux [Convention] if needed. We told them that we would apply it word by word,” he said.

The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey the authority to ban warships of all countries – regardless of whether or not they are party to war or have a coast on the Black Sea – from passing through the straits during times of war if Turkey is a party of the war or says it is under threat.

The announcement banning all warships from entering the Black Sea through the straits follows Turkey's decision on 27 February to stop only Russian warships seeking to sail into the Black Sea (except for those returning to their original bases after a rotation).

Turkey's decision came after recognising the Russian assault on Ukraine an act of war, a key legal requirement allowing Ankara to enact Montreux Convention.

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