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Not Thinking Strait? Turkey Won't Let Russian Ships Into Bosphorus

© AP PhotoA Turkish coastguard boat in Bosphorus Strait. file photo
A Turkish coastguard boat in Bosphorus Strait. file photo - Sputnik International
Dozens of Russian ships have reportedly been waiting for hours near the Bosphorus Strait to get the go-ahead from Turkey to be able to pass through the waterway.

The Yauza, a transport ship recently obtained by the Russian Navy. File photo. - Sputnik International
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In a clear violation of international norms, Turkish authorities have created hurdles for Russian vessels passing through the Bosphorus Strait, according to RT; as a result, dozens of Russian ships have been waiting for hours to obtain the green light from Turkey for passage, LifeNews reports.

RIA Novosti quoted Viktor Kravchenko, former chief of staff of the Russian Navy, as saying that a possible unilateral closure by Turkey of the Bosphorus Strait for Russian ships would be out of line with international law.

"Turkey will not close the strait to Russian vessels en route to Syria because it would be a violation of international law and the Montreux Convention, in particular, — a document that was signed by most counties at the time", he said.

The 1936 Montreux Convention on the Regime of the Straits regulates the passage of civilian and naval ships through the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles.  According to Article 2, "merchant vessels shall enjoy complete freedom of transit and navigation in the Straits, by day and by night, under any flag and with any kind of cargo, without any formalities."

© AP Photo / Emrah GurelThe New Mosque is backdropped by Istanbul's skyline and the Bosporus, Thursday, July 9, 2015
The New Mosque is backdropped by Istanbul's skyline and the Bosporus, Thursday, July 9, 2015 - Sputnik International
The New Mosque is backdropped by Istanbul's skyline and the Bosporus, Thursday, July 9, 2015

As for naval warships, in times of peace Turkey must permit the passage of small and medium-sized vessels belonging to all nations. The Black Sea powers (formerly including the USSR and now Russia) can navigate warships of any class through the Straits, "on condition that these vessels pass through the Straits singly, escorted by not more than two destroyers."

In times of war, the passage of warships shall be left entirely to the discretion of the Turkish government, according to the document.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu - Sputnik International
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In December 1982, the UN elaborated the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but Turkey refused to join it and the Montreux convention remained in force. In 1994, Turkey unilaterally adopted new Maritime Traffic Regulations for the Straits, and included a number of restrictions for the passage of foreign vessels.

Meanwhile, it was reported that French fighter jets will use the Incirlik military base and that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will receive logistical support in the Turkish port of Mersin. 

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