Turkey hints at pressure to allow NATO warships passage into Black Sea

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Turkey on Sunday accused Ukraine, without naming them, of trying to pressure Ankara to abandon the Montreux Convention and allow NATO warships to enter the Black Sea.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he did not rule out that floating mines appeared in the Black Sea to put pressure on Ankara to allow NATO warships to cross the Bosphorus.

“We suspect that mines appeared there on purpose. They were probably released as part of a plan aimed at putting pressure on us to let NATO minesweepers across the strait into the Black Sea,” the minister said.

But he added that Ankara, following the rules of the Montreux Convention, will not allow warships to enter the Black Sea, nor will it involve the Black Sea in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Akar said the Turkish side is investigating the issue and found that there are about 400 such mines, according to media reports.

“We don’t know who placed them. We know they were made in Russia, but we’re investigating which country they were placed in,” he said.

Turkey has already held meetings with Bulgarian and Romanian authorities to discuss the matter.

Observers said Akar’s statement about the country that laid the mines was an indirect reference to Ukraine asking for NATO support to counter Russia’s aggression.

Last month Russia said the mines placed by the Ukrainian side at the approaches to Black Sea ports could be drifting towards the Bosphorus after they broke off cables near Ukrainian ports.

The claim was dismissed by Kyiv as disinformation and an attempt to cordon off parts of the sea.

In late March and early April, three floating mines were discovered and destroyed off the Turkish coast.

Last week, Akar held a video conference with his counterparts in Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Romania and Ukraine to discuss the war in Ukraine, floating mines and regional security.

“Mines aside, the importance of Black Sea cooperation for peace, tranquility and stability was stressed,” Akar said after the meeting.

In February, Ankara announced that it would implement the international convention allowing Turkey to close the straits at the entrance to the Black Sea to warships from “belligerent countries”.

The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey the right to ban warships from using the Dardanelles and Bosporus during wartime.

Last week, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, told the Turkish-Anatolian News Agency that the UN monitors any type of mines in international waters with great concern, particularly with regard to their impact on international transport and food exports.


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