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Turkey blocks passage of British minehunter ships destined for Ukraine

by Dmytro Basmat January 3, 2024 1:11 AM 2 min read
Russian warships, part of a blockade of Ukrainian ships, are viewed in Sevastopol harbor on March 7, 2014 in Sevastopol, Crimea, Russian-occupied Ukraine. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Two British minehunter ships destined for Ukraine will not be able to travel through Turkish waters, President Erdogan's Directorate of Communications announced on Jan. 2, citing an international pact.

"Our pertinent allies have been duly apprised that the mine-hunting ships donated to Ukraine by the United Kingdom will not be allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits to the Black Sea as long as the war continues," a statement from the President's communications office read.

Referring to an international convention which governs maritime traffic in the region, the Turkish government emphasized that Russian and Ukrainian warships are prohibited from entering Turkish Straits due to the ongoing war.

As per the Montreux Convention, warships from non-belligerent nations are allowed passage through the straits during wartime. However, the convention also states that Ankara retains the ultimate authority over the passage of all warships, if Turkey perceives a risk of being involved in the conflict.

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense revealed its plan to deliver Sandown class vessels from Britain's Royal Navy last month, amid the ongoing disbursement of sea mines in the Black Sea. The donated minehunter ships were intended to clear sea mines for the safe passage of larger ships, as well as to "help save lives at sea and open up vital export routes."

The Netherlands has also previously pledged two Alkmaar class minehunter ships to Ukraine to arrive in the Black Sea by 2025. It is now unclear if the intended delivery will reach Ukraine.

Hundreds of mines have been spread throughout the Black Sea since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. On several occasions, civilian ships or navy ships belonging to countries not party to the war struck sea mines.

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