Naval exercises in Turkey: closing Bosphorus for Russia?


It is likely that very soon Russia might lose the access to the Black Sea, and its Black Sea fleet based on illegally occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, would be no more useful than a paper boat in a small puddle. On November 28 Turkey started exercises of the Coast Guard in the Marmara Sea that is located between the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles.

This is a narrow “bottleneck” of the Black Sea where any navy of the world can be blocked without much effort, and as per occupied Crimea and Russian forces in it – they might be cut off any supply by sea, says


Formally, the exercises have anti-terrorist character: in particular, the armed forces of Turkish Coast Guard, according to the official version, worked on blocking and “cleaning up” a vessel, “captured” by terrorists. In addition, according to the Turkish authorities, a scenario imitating illegal migrants’ attempts to penetrate into the country was exercised, as well as rescue operations in the waters of the Sea of ​​Marmara. However, experts believe that the main purpose of the activities is a clear hint for Russia: the Black Sea region where it is better not to do too arrogant gestures.


It is worth noting that the use of Bosporus and the Dardanelles is regulated by so-called Montreux Convention on the status of the Straits, named after the Swiss city where it was adopted in 1936. It was signed by Turkey, the USSR, France, Great Britain, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Australia and Japan. According to this international agreement, Turkey is obliged to let through the Straits any military and civilian ships of all States in peacetime. However, for non-Black Sea countries there are some restrictions: only small surface warships may go through the Bosporus and Dardanelles. The total displacement of the military vessels of such States, being in the Black Sea waters at the same time, can not exceed 30 thousand tons, and the term is limited by 21 hours (by the way, for this exact reason the United States, strictly following the international law, sent only ships of the class “Destroyer” for exercises in Ukraine).


However, the same Montreux Convention provides the inalienable right of Turkey to prohibit from passing through the Strait of any warships of any country in case Turkey takes part in a war, or thinks that it is threatened with war. In addition, in the event of a war where Turkey is not involved, the Straits should be closed to warships of all participating countries.


It is also worth noting that according to the international law, the incident with destroying a Russian bomber Su-24 that violated the air space of Turkey is a sufficient reason to fear the beginning of the Russian aggression. Thus, according to the Montreux Convention, the closure of Turkish straits for Russian Navy at any convenient time would be completely legal.