The role of the Turkish government, which is both a NATO member and has close economic relations with Russia, is extremely important in the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. The harsh attitude of the USA and NATO towards Russia since the beginning of the crisis may put Turkey in a difficult situation at this point.
At the first place, Turkey has tried to follow a balanced policy in this crisis, as it has in all its foreign policy in recent years. Noting that they are ready to assume an intermediary role, Ankara also said that.
Also, in the statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last few days, it stated that Russia has been following an expansionary policy from the past and emphasized Ukraine’s territorial integrity and constitutional right as required by international law. Turkey openly used the term “military operation” in its statement. This situation clearly showed the side of the country, although Turkey wanted to pursue a balance policy. Ukraine, on the other hand, demanded that Turkey close the Black Sea to Russian ships.
In addition to Erdogan’s statements on the subject, his early return from his African tour and his attendance at the NATO Summit is another move that would further anger Russia.
Economic impacts for Turkey:
This attitude of Turkey will also negatively affect the country, which has economic relations with Russia in many fields, economically. Turkey has a defense relationship with Ukraine through the sale of armed drones. However, Turkey has more important trade relations with Russia when compared to Ukraine. Russia is Turkey’s largest importing country and also Turkey’s largest natural gas supplier. Energy cooperation between the two countries is not limited to natural gas; Ankara meets 10 percent of its oil needs and one-third of its coal needs from Moscow. In addition, the first nuclear power plant in Mersin Akkuyu is being built by the Russian company Rosatom. Turkey also had multi-faceted relations with Russia in conflict regions such as Syria and Libya.
Ukraine’s Request and the Montreux Convention
The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits is an international convention signed in 1936 that gives Turkey the right to control and regulate the passage of warships over the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits. The Convention gives Turkey full control over the Straits and guarantees the free passage of civilian ships in peacetime. The Convention also limits the passage of warships belonging to landlocked countries.
Article 19: “In time of war… Vessels of war belonging to belligerent Powers shall not, however, pass through the Straits except incases arising out of the application of Article 25 of the present Convention…”
According to Article 19 of the Convention, when in a state of war, Turkey is obliged to close its Straits to the warships of the warring parties. However, warships that have passed through the Straits before Turkey can use this authority can pass through the Straits again to return to the ports of connection.
While it was eagerly awaited whether Turkey would allow the ships to pass, Ukrainian President Zelensky thanked Erdogan and the Turkish people for their support to Ukraine, leaving a question mark in mind: “I thank my friend Mr. President of Turkey, Erdogan, and the people of Turkey for their strong support. The ban on the passage of Russian warships to the Black Sea and significant military and humanitarian support for Ukraine are extremely important today. The people of Ukraine will never forget that!”
This article was edited using the data from the Anadolu Agency, Euronews Turkey and voanews.com