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Can Turkey use the Montreux Convention to block Russian warships?

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Important International institutions.

 

Context:

Turkey is set to implement the Montreux Convention, an international convention on naval passage through two of its strategic straits, which would allow them to limit the movement of Russian warships between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

 

On what grounds can such limitations be announced?

  • In the event of a war, the pact gives Ankara the right to regulate the transit of naval warships and to block the straits to warships belonging to the countries involved in the conflict.
  • Turkey’s foreign minister said that the situation in Ukraine had become a war. This declaration authorises Ankara to activate the Montreux Convention and ban Russian war vessels from entering the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.

 

Significance of the move and its implications on Russia:

The Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, also known as the Turkish Straits or the Black Sea Straits, connect the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea via the Sea of Marmara.

  • It is the only passage through which the Black Sea ports can access the Mediterranean and beyond.
  • Over three million barrels of oil, about three per cent of the daily global supply, mostly produced in Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, pass through this waterway every day.
  • The route also ships large amounts of iron, steel, and agricultural products from the Black Sea coast to Europe and the rest of the world.

 

Challenges before Turkey now:

Russia’s location on the Black Sea complicates the situation.

Article 19 of the treaty contains an exception for the countries on the Black Sea that can effectively undermine Turkey’s power in blocking the Russian warships entering or exiting the Black Sea:

  • “Vessels of war belonging to belligerent powers, whether they are Black Sea Powers or not, which have become separated from their bases, may return thereto,” it says.

That means warships can return to their original bases through the passage and Turkey cannot prevent it.

 

About Montreux Convention:

  • The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, often known simply as the Montreux Convention, is an international agreement governing the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits in Turkey.
  • Signed on 20 July 1936 at the Montreux Palace in Switzerland, it went into effect on 9 November 1936 and addressed the long-running Straits Question over who should control the strategically vital link between the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Black sea.
  2. Mediterranean sea.
  3. Montreux Convention.
  4. Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the convention.

Sources: Indian Express.