Treaty tests Turkey’s stance on Ukraine war
In February 2022, a Russian submarine passed Istanbul while it was transiting the Bosporus. Turkey serves as the barrier between the Black Sea (and the Mediterranean).
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One Turkish proverb says that “did your ships sink into the Black Sea?” When a person loses in thought and is trying to find a solution for a problem that seems impossible, the expression is often used.
As it turns out, that’s the very body of water that has Turkey on a geopolitical tightrope since Russia invaded Ukraine and began military operations from those waters — because Turkey controls access to the Black Sea.
Following the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, Turkey’s War of Independence was officially over. The Straits of Bosporus & Dardanelles were then demilitarized. The International Straits Commission governed access to and from Black Sea into Mediterranean.
The political situation in Europe had been deteriorating ahead of World War II. Turkey attempted to modify the accord and in 1936, the Montreux Convention was signed. Turkey has a unique maritime advantage because it holds the straits connecting Europe and Asia.
Only two water routes into or from the Black Sea are available: the Bosporus, Dardanelles and the Bosporus. Turkey has influence on Russia’s Navy movements.
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Turkey is effectively making it impossible for Russia to reinforce its Black Sea fleet outside or move warships from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
Sinan Ulgen stated that these provisions didn’t alter much of the power balance in the Black Sea. This former Turkish diplomat now works as a Carnegie Europe visiting scholar.
“Ulgen explained that Russian ships belonging to the Black Sea Fleet will be in the Black Sea and they will not have the ability to travel to the Mediterranean. This could pose a threat to Russia’s projection of power in the east Mediterranean, particularly Syria.
It sinking of the Russian warship Moskva in the Black Sea on April 14 highlighted Russia’s quandary: Moscow has to convince Turkey to open the Bosporus and Dardanelles if it wants to replace the Moskva — which was Russia’s Black Sea flagship — or move the Black Sea fleet away from Ukraine.
Ankara, Moscow, and Ankara are yet to have a heated argument over Ukraine. However, there are fears that their relationship may become even more fraught.
Turkey attempting to broker peace between Russia and UkraineRussia is not under any sanctions.
Turkey, however is a NATO member. Turkey has closed its skies to Russian-flying planes seeking to reach Syria in an apparent sign of tension between Turkey, Russia.
Turkey downed a Russian plane on the border to Syria in 2015; Moscow was supporting Bashar al-Assad. Moscow responded with a ban on Turkish food imports and workers.
Ulgen suggested that Russia and Turkey could be pitted against one another by the Montreux Convention.
He said that Article 19’s tenure was not clear for how long and that the Turkish side had recognized that there has been a conflict.
He stated, “We might witness a scenario where Russia claims the war is over, while the international community or Turkey do not recognize it.”
Ulgen indicated that he thinks Turkey will adhere to the Montreux Convention’s letter. This is because flexibility could cause tremendous pressure on the other side.
“Turkey wouldn’t want to be in that situation,” he stated.