Will Turkey drop the ‘Iron Curtain’ over the Bosphorus?

This post was published in VPK News. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


MOSCOW, (BM) – In 1833, when Russia and Turkey briefly became allies, a Muscovite Stone was installed on the Bosphorus. Now he is on the territory of a military base. So it’s not easy to see him. The stone became a reminder of the five-month stay of the Russian landing and squadron.

Then an eight-year treaty was signed, which proclaimed a Russian-Ottoman defensive alliance. It contained one secret article, which provided that in the event of certain circumstances, Turkey, instead of military assistance to the Russians, was to quickly close the Dardanelles for the entry of foreign military ships.

The Bosphorus operation of 1833 strengthened the foreign policy prestige of our empire in the eyes of Europe. But under pressure from the West in 1840, we were forced to abandon it. The loss by the Russians of all the benefits of the treaty was secured by the signing of the Convention on the Straits in 1841.

According to the Convention, Russia, England, France, Austria and Prussia did not have the right to enter their warships in the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus in peacetime. Nowadays, the regime of passage of the straits is determined by the Convention on the regime of the straits, signed in the city of Montreux in 1936.

According to information from the Russian Navy, in the waters adjacent to Cyprus in September, the Russian fleet will begin exercises with live firing as part of the large-scale Ocean Shield 2020 maneuvers.

Almost immediately, the media (the Turkish state television channel TRT, for example) trumpeted that Turkey had issued two navigation notifications for the eastern Mediterranean, where the Russian fleet intends to conduct exercises soon. The Department of Hydrography and Oceanography of the Turkish Navy recommended that the naval sailors of the Russian Federation not enter the drilling zone and conduct exploration work on the seabed (the Turks are searching for oil and gas). Erdogan has already boasted of proven gas reserves in the Black Sea, expecting the same wealth from the Mediterranean.

Earlier, Ankara again extended the exploration mission of its research vessel under the cover of warships in the Eastern Mediterranean, which led to increased tensions with Athens. The Greek Foreign Ministry called the extension of Turkish research illegal and called on Erdogan to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation. The descendants of the Hellenes confirmed their words with a demonstration of strength. Let’s say, by flights of their F-16s.

It is clear that the planned exercises of the Russian navy made Ankara nervous, which strongly advised us to stay away from its marine geologists. By the way, recently NATO ships were circling near our production platforms in the Black Sea. Two frigates were in our zone at once. It is no coincidence that it was here that NATO and Ukraine decided to hold the Sea Breeze 2020 naval exercise.

So the NATO members calmly walked around the production platforms of the Golitsyno gas condensate field in the Black Sea. And this is one of the strategic fields that supplies the Crimea with gas. And what about Moscow? She was silent, unlike the Turks.

Frankly speaking, we haven’t spoken to us like that for a long time. And they didn’t behave so boorishly with the Russians. But this is the Black Sea. And you still have to get to the Mediterranean. Through the Bosphorus. Here it is appropriate to draw an analogy with the Baltic Fleet, which was locked in the Gulf of Finland in the first years of the Great Patriotic War.

In fact, as now on Cherny, Soviet ships were surrounded by enemy both along the coastline and at sea. Here the Germans set up a number of minefields. It took heavy losses for submarines to break through them.

But we are not the Soviet Union, and the Bosphorus, according to the Montreux convention, is open to everyone. After all, even ships of non-Black Sea countries will be able to “swim” in the Black Sea for three weeks. Including NATO. For the Russian Federation, the convention may end at any time. Even as a subject of international blackmail. And conversations about this have recently been heard more and more often at different levels. So you have to be ready for that.

The Turkish press has already made an informational stuffing about Erdogan’s plans to ban the passage of our warships through the Bosphorus. Rationale: If Greece and other NATO countries try to create tensions in the region, the passage through the strait will close without warning. In this case, the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria, remains without supplies.

We understand this and, unlike NATO sailors, we do not take pictures against the background of Turkish oil platforms. Nevertheless, such a threat to us can become real.

This brings to mind a historical tale from the Cold War era. In 1952, Turkey joined NATO, having received American bases with nuclear weapons on its territory. And since we are so great again, the Turkish authorities thought then, we will close the Bosphorus for the Soviets. Turkey was preparing to drown the Montreux Convention in the strait. It is obvious that the United States was behind the non-diplomatic trick. And over the past few centuries, whoever has not pushed the Ottomans to war with Russia or the USSR.

But such tricks did not work with the Soviet Union. Moscow did not make a concerned face or summon the Turkish ambassador. The then Foreign Minister, Comrade Gromyko, when communicating with the Americans, simply stated that the Soviet fleet did not need the Bosphorus to enter the Mediterranean Sea. On which questions naturally rained down: how is this possible, did you teach geography?

Andrei Andreevich calmly replied: just two nuclear salvoes – and besides the Bosphorus there will be more straits. “However, I am not sure whether Istanbul will remain in this case…” Andrei Andreevich remarked.

Literally on the same day, all claims from the Turkish side were dropped.


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