Türkiye blocks mine-hunting ships heading to Ukraine

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey said on Tuesday it would not allow two mine-hunting vessels donated by Britain to Ukraine to pass through its waters on their way to the Black Sea because that would violate an international agreement regarding wartime passage through the strait.

Britain said last month that it would transfer two Royal Navy mine-hunting ships to the Ukrainian navy to help bolster Ukraine's naval operations in its war with Russia.

The Presidential Communications Directorate said that Turkey, a NATO member, had informed allies that it would not allow ships to use the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits as long as the war in Ukraine continued.

She said in a statement posted on Twitter: “Our concerned allies have been duly informed that mine trawlers donated by the UK to Ukraine will not be allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits into the Black Sea as long as the war continues.” Social media platform X

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

The agreement excludes ships returning to their original bases, but neither Russia nor Ukraine have expressed their intention to pass their warships through the Turkish Straits to the Black Sea since the start of the war.

Turkey also warned countries not bordering the Black Sea at the time against sending warships through the strait.

Under the Montreux Convention, warships of non-warring parties can pass through the strait in time of war. But the agreement also stipulates that Ankara has the final say on the passage of all warships, if Turkey considers itself in danger of being drawn into war.

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The presidency said that Turkey implemented the Montreux Agreement in an impartial and precise manner to prevent escalation in the Black Sea.

Ankara maintains good relations with both Kiev and Moscow amid the war.

(Reporting by Hussein Hayatsever, Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Gareth Jones)

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