In the midst of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Turkey is restricting access to the Black Sea

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country would not abandon its relations with Russia or Ukraine, but that it will follow an international convention that permits Turkey to close the straits at the Black Sea’s entry to belligerent countries’ vessels.

Turkey has the authority under the Montreux Convention of 1936 to prevent warships from using the Dardanelles and the Bosporus during times of conflict. Ukraine has requested Turkey to abide by the deal and deny Russian vessels access.

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In recent weeks, many Russian ships have traveled through the straits on their way to the Black Sea, and it was unclear how much of an impact Turkey’s move to seal the straits would have on the situation. The agreement also makes an exemption for ships returning to port from the Black Sea.

Turkey has condemned Russia’s military action in Ukraine, but it has also sought to strike a balance between its close connections to Ukraine and its desire to avoid disturbing Russia’s delicate economic relationship.

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