Turkey Blocks UK Minehunter Ships Intended for Ukraine

Turkey said on Tuesday (Jan. 2) it would not allow two minehunter ships donated to Ukraine by Britain to transit its waters en route to the Black Sea since it would violate an international pact concerning wartime passage of the straits.

Britain said last month it would transfer two Royal Navy minehunter ships to the Ukrainian Navy to help strengthen Ukraine’s sea operations in its war with Russia.

NATO member Turkey informed allies that it would not allow the vessels to use its Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits as long as the war in Ukraine continues, said the presidency’s communications directorate.

“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,” it said in a statement posted on social media platform X.

When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Turkey invoked the 1936 Montreux Convention, effectively blocking passage of military ships of the warring parties.

The pact exempts ships returning to home bases, but neither Russia nor Ukraine has expressed an intention to pass their warships through the Turkish straits to the Black Sea since the war started.

Turkey also warned non-Black Sea states at the time not to send warships through the straits.

According to the Montreux Convention, warships of non-belligerent parties can transit through the straits in time of war. But the convention also says Ankara has the final say on the passage of all warships, if Turkey considers itself in danger of being drawn into a war.

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British intelligence believes the latest attacks on Ukraine indicate a change in Moscow’s tactics. Russia is now focusing on striking the defense industry rather than the energy sector.

Turkey has implemented Montreux impartially and meticulously to prevent escalation in the Black Sea, the presidency said.

Ankara maintains good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow amid the war.

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