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Ukraine crisis: Turkey denies Russian warships' access to Black Sea

Turkey has rejected a request by Russian warships to enter the Black Sea via the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on 1 March.

During an interview with Turkish television channel Habertürk TV , Çavuşoğlu disclosed that Russia had wanted to return four warships to the Black Sea via the straits between 27 and 28 February.

The Russian request was made before Turkey's recognition on 27 February that Russia's assault on Ukraine was an act of war: a key legal requirement enabling Ankara to implement 1936 Montreux Convention in the event of a war.

“[Still], Ankara did not allow three of the ships to enter the Black Sea because they were not registered to a Russian base there,” Çavuşoğlu said. The fourth ship could have passed as it was registered to a base in the Black Sea, he noted, but it is understood that it did not pass the straits either.

“Russia did not send the warships upon Turkey's friendly request,” he said.

The convention gives Turkey the authority to ban warships from the straits during times of war. However, Turkey cannot block all Russian warships accessing the Black Sea due to a clause in the convention exempting those returning to their registered base. Çavuşoğlu cautioned that there should not be any abuse of this exemption. “Ships that declare returning to their bases and passing through the straits should not be involved in the war,” he said on 27 February.

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