Turkey Closes Bosporus to All Warship Traffic

File image courtesy Alexxx1979 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Published Feb 28, 2022 10:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

Turkey has formally invoked its authority to close the Dardanelles and the Bosporus to foreign warships, limiting the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet to the assets it has on hand. 

The Russian task force has so far played a limited role in the invasion of Ukraine, but it has assisted with the ongoing attack on Mariupol, the seizure of Snake Island, and the capture of a small number of Ukrainian merchant ships. 

The 1936 Montreux Convention grants Turkey jurisdiction over traffic on the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. In everyday operation, it restricts the movements of certain naval vessels into and out of the Black Sea - notably submarines and aircraft carriers. The convention also allows Turkey to close the waterway to military vessels during times of war. On Sunday, Turkish officials began referring to the conflict in Ukraine as a "war" for the first time, laying the groundwork for Monday's announcement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech Monday that he was "very saddened" by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Turkey has close ties with both nations, and Erdogan said that while it could not abandon its connections, it could use its authority under the Montreux Convention "in a manner to prevent escalation of the Russia-Ukraine crisis."

"We implemented what Montreux says and we will do so from now on. There has been no request for passage through the straits until today," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after the speech on Monday. 

Officially, Turkey will remain neutral in the conflict, but its defense ties with Ukraine are already having considerable effect on the ground. Turkish defense company Baykar Makina has supplied the Ukrainian military with the Bayraktar TB2, a lightweight aerial drone credited with at least 800 successful strikes in four years of operational history, including dozens carried out over Ukraine. 

Top image: Alexxx1979 / CC BY-SA 3.0