Ukraine asks Turkey to shut Black Sea waterways to Russian ships

Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar says Kyiv has called on Ankara to close ‘the airspace, Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits’.

Ukraine asks Turkey to shut Black Sea waterways to Russian ships

Ukraine has asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships, Kyiv’s ambassador to Ankara has said, as Russia launched air and ground assaults on its neighbour.

The request on Thursday puts NATO member Turkey, which shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good relations with both countries, in a difficult position.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Ankara has control over the straits and can limit warship passages during wartime or if threatened.

Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar told a news conference in Ankara:

“We are calling for the airspace, Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits to be closed. We have conveyed our relevant demand to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want sanctions imposed on the Russian side.”

There was no immediate statement by the Turkish government. Ankara on Thursday advised its citizens in Ukraine to stay at home or in a safe place and avoid travelling after airlines cancelled flights due to the closure of Ukraine’s airspace.

Turkey has opposed sanctions on Russia, and has been calling for NATO and Russia to tone down their rhetoric. Erdogan said last month Turkey was “ready to do whatever is necessary” to avoid a war, but Ankara has also described Russian steps against Ukraine as unacceptable.

While building close cooperation with Russia on defence and energy, Turkey has also invested in the Ukrainian defence industry. It has also sold sophisticated drones to Ukraine and signed a deal to co-produce more, angering Moscow.

Earlier this month, six Russian warships and a submarine transited the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits to the Black Sea for what Moscow called naval drills near Ukraine waters.

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine published today on its Facebook page an audio recording of threats against Ukrainian border guards who are on Zmiiny Island.

Source: Al Jazeera