Why Sea Route Turkey Controls is Key for Russia?
Turkey is set to activate the Montreux Convention in response to Russia’s War over Ukraine.The declaration that situation in Ukraine had become a war, authorizes Turkey to activate the Montreux Convention and ban Russian war vessels from entering the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.
It regulates maritime traffic through the Black Sea. The 1936 Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits (commonly referred to as the Montreux Convention, after the city in Switzerland where it was negotiated)
It guarantees “complete freedom” of passage for all civilian vessels during peacetime but battleships face certain restrictions and permits Turkey to restrict the passage of navies not belonging to Black Sea states.
Any country with coastline on the Black Sea – Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia or Ukraine – must notify Turkey eight days in advance of its intention to send vessels of war through the straits.
Other countries, the ones that don’t border the Black Sea, must give Turkey 15 days’ advance notice.
Why is this route important to Russia?
- This route is directly linked with the Russia’s naval power: Because Russia’s only warm-water naval ports are on the Black Sea, in order to effectively project naval power, the Russians must not only exert control of the sea, but also have unrestricted access to the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits.
- 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.
Role of Turkey:
- Turkish government finds itself in a difficult position, as both Ukraine and Russia are important partners in critical energy and military trade agreements.
- Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, wants to strengthen its ties with the West.
- Turkey and Russia find themselves on opposite sides of the debate on several major foreign policy issues like Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Syrian Civil War, the Libyan Civil War and the Kosovo conflict etc.
- 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.
- This exception provides Russia with an alternate way to exploit the Montreux Convention, which would be to reassign some of its vessels to the Black Sea.
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