Ukraine has asked Turkey to close the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to Russian warships as Russia has officially launched air and ground assaults on Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, said the country expected that Turkey, a member of NATO, would stand in solidarity with Ukraine. He also said Turkey shouldn’t remain neutral after Russia started the attack.
“We are calling for the air space, Bosporus 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. Particularly, we demand the seizure of the shares of the Russian business world here,” Bodnar said at a news conference in Ankara.
Turkey not only shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia, but the country also has a good relationship with both. Therefore the request to close off the straits puts Turkey in an uncomfortable position.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Ankara will try to manage the crisis without breaking off relations with Moscow or Kyiv. However, he also called Russia’s steps against Ukraine “unacceptable,” and he also offered to meditate between the two countries.
Turkey will also not be putting up sanctions on Russia.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. Therefore Ankara has the ability to close off the straits during wartime or if it is threatened.