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In reaction to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Turkey has invoked the Montreux Convention. What exactly does this involve, and how may its execution impact the war? Turkey plans to enact an international treaty on naval access via two of its critical straits, allowing it to limit Russian vessel mobility between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
Read on to learn more about the Montreux Convention UPSC topic.
Montreux Convention UPSC: What is the Montreux Convention?
For more than 70 years, Turkey has faithfully and impartially executed the Montreux Convention, which is a critical component of Black Sea security and stability. In this aspect, the successful execution of the Montreux Convention since 1936 attests to the cautious balance struck by the Convention.
As per the Montreux Convention, merchant’s vessels have free passage through the Turkish Straits, whereas passages of warships are subject to some constraints that differ based on whether the ships belong to Black Sea riparian States or not.
Aside from the broad limits that apply to all ships of war belonging to non-riparian States, strict limitations such as total aggregate capacity and length of stay in the Black Sea apply to all ships of war belonging to non-riparian States.
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Why is Montreux Convention News?
In reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Turkey intends to use the Montreux Convention. The statement that the crisis in Ukraine has devolved into a war allows Turkey to use the Montreux Convention and prohibit Russian warships from accessing the Black Sea via the Bosporus and Dardanelles ports.
Key Elements of Montreux Convention
The Montreux Convention’s four major factors govern which ships may enter the Black Sea during wartime:
#1. In times of war, Turkey has the authority to restrict the straits to vessels from conflicting parties, or when Turkey is a party to the conflict or is threatened by assault from another country.
#2. Turkey has the authority to restrict the straits to trade ships from countries at war with Turkey.
#3. Any nation with a Black Sea coastline — Georgia, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, or Ukraine – must inform Turkey 8 days in advance of their plan to send warships through the straits.
Other nations that do not surround the Black Sea must give Turkey 15 days’ notification. Only Black Sea states are permitted to ship submarines via the straits, and only with advance notification and if the vessels are built or acquired outside the Black Sea.
#4. Only nine warships are permitted to sail through the gates at any given time, and the size of the ships, both individually and collectively, is limited. A group of ships cannot be more than 15,000 metric tons.
Modern warships are massive, with frigates weighing in at roughly 3,000 metric tons and battleships and cruisers weighing in at over 10,000 metric tons. Advanced aircraft carriers are too large to pass through and are not permitted under Turkish law.
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Role of Turkey in Russia-Ukraine Conflict
The Turkish government is currently in a delicate position since both Ukraine and Russia are key partners in major energy and military trade deals.
Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, wants to strengthen ties with the West without disturbing Russia. Its command over these critical straits may put its balancing act to the test.
In this respect, Turkey has claimed that it cannot exclude all Russian vessels from entering the Black Sea owing to an agreement provision that exempts those returning to their authorized base.
Article 19 of the treaty makes an exemption for Black Sea countries that might effectively weaken Turkey’s authority by preventing Russian vessels from entering or departing the Black Sea.
Ships of war belonging to combatant states, whether or not they are Black Sea Powers, that have gotten detached from their ports may return to them.
This exemption allows Russia to use the Montreux Convention in a different way by reassigning some of its ships to the Black Sea.
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