The Turkish government takes seriously the Montreux Convention if 1936, and it showed this again on Tuesday January 2nd when said that it would not allow the UK to move two ex-Royal Navy minehunters through the straits for delivery to Ukraine.
The Montreux convention empowers Turkiye to close the Bosphorus to warships while a conflict is underway in the Black Sea. This applies to both sides, even to the ships of fellow NATO members.
“Türkiye immediately classified Russia’s special military operation against Ukraine as ‘war’ and, in accordance with Article 19 of the Montreux Convention . . . closed the Straits to warships of the belligerent parties (Russia and Ukraine),” the Turkish President’s office said, adding that “our pertinent allies have been duly apprised that the mine-hunting ships donated to Ukraine by the United Kingdom will not be allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits to the Black Sea as long as the war continues.”
Ukraine has already acknowledged that the much-needed minehunters won’t be able to make it through the Turkish-controlled waterway, at least not until the war is over. However, when the conflict is declared “over”, the older Sandown-class vessels will be useful to Ukraine for reopening ports and waterways.
In recent months at least three ships have been damaged by mines along the route. However, Ukraine suspects that a number of incidents are not reported, particularly if there was no serious damage to any vessel involved.