Turkey is planning to restrict Russian vessels' access to the Black Sea due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday.
“It is not a couple of airstrikes now, the situation in Ukraine is officially a war... We will implement the Montreux Convention,” the official told CNN Turk in a live interview. “Turkey will implement all provisions of Montreux Convention in a transparent manner,” he added.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which governs the Black Sea straits, Turkey has the authority to restrict the straits to armed vessels from any nation during a legal state of war, as well as when it feels threatened by an impending conflict.
However, until the country is at war, it cannot entirely shut down the straits.
Cavusoglu stated that Ankara will continue to allow military warships returning to their home ports to pass through the straits.
“There should not be any abuse of this exemption. Ships that declare returning to their bases and passing through the straits should not be involved in the war,” the diplomat said.
Despite neither side of the current crisis legally declaring war, Kyiv has repeatedly pushed Ankara to close the straits for Russia.
On Thursday, Russia started a large-scale military campaign in Ukraine, alleging the necessity to protect the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics from an alleged all-out attack by Ukrainian soldiers. The strike was described as "unprovoked" by Ukraine.
Kyiv has denied attempting to assault the republics that split away from Ukraine following the 2014 Maidan coup and overthrow of the country's democratically elected government.
On Monday, Moscow formally recognized the republics as sovereign governments, signing bilateral friendship treaties and promising military aid.