December 2, 2015
In another escalation in a flurry of gradual escalations that have taken place over Syria in the last few weeks, some reports are suggesting that Turkey has once again stuck its finger in the chest of the Russian bear. This time, only days after shooting down a Russian jet that was most likely over Syrian airspace in a planned provocation, the Turks are showing signs that they may be attempting to close the Bosphorus Strait to Russian ships.
According to reports from Sputnik News made only a few hours ago,
In a clear violation of international norms, Turkish authorities have created hurdles for Russian vessels passing through the Bosphorus Strait; as a result, dozens of Russian ships have been waiting for hours to obtain the green light from Turkey for passage, media reports said.
RIA Novosti quoted Viktor Kravchenko, former chief of staff of the Russian Navy, as saying that a possible unilateral closure by Turkey of the Bosphorus Strait for Russian ships would be out of line with international law.
"Turkey will not close the strait to Russian vessels en route to Syria because it would be a violation of international law and the Montreux Convention, in particular, — a document that was signed by most counties at the time", he said.
The 1936 Montreaux Convention on the Regime of the Straits governs the passage of ships both naval and civilian through the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. Article 2 of the agreement states that "merchant vessels shall enjoy complete freedom of transit and navigation in the Straits, by day and by night, under any flag and with any kind of cargo, without any formalities."
Small and Medium naval warships and vessels must be permitted to pass through the Strait as well during times of peace with Black Sea powers able to sail any class of ship through the waterway. During times of war, the discretion is left up to the Turkish government.
Notably, Turkey unilaterally declared a new “Maritime Traffic Regulations for the Straits” in 1994 which included several restrictions on the passage of foreign vessels.
Meanwhile, there was an incident in the Dardanelles Straits where a Turkish submarine was spotted near a Russian vessel. ITAR-Tass reports
Earlier, Turkey’s daily Milliyet said that a Turkish submarine earlier in the day encountered a large cargo and passenger transport ship of the Russian Navy - The Yauza - when it was passing through the Dardanelles Strait from the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The Russian ship was escorted by a Turkish coast guard boat, just as the protocols require. The Turkish submarine appeared near it at the exit to the Sea of Marmara. The submarine was on the move in a surface position. It passed by the Russian transport ship several hundred meters away in the opposite direction, towards the Aegean Sea, the daily said.
Despite the obvious tensions, it seems neither side is attempting to make a major ordeal out of the submarine in the Dardanelles.
If the Boshporus remains closed, however, that will be a much different story since it will have a direct and immediate impact on Russian operations in Syria as well as on trade shipments.
Russia would still be able to deliver weapons and troops to Syria if their access to the Straits were eliminated but it would be forced to sail around Gibraltar, a 13-14 day trip as opposed to the 4 day trip through the Straits.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST atUCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.