Istanbul, Russian war ship crosses the Bosphorus

Ukraine asks Turkey to close the straits to Russian warships

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey calls on Ankara not to remain impartial in the war: “Russia is attacking Ukraine on all fronts”

Ukraine has formally asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits – which connect the Mediterranean with the Black Sea – to the passage of Russian ships, after Russia launched a surprise invasion of Ukraine this morning with a major air and land offensive not seen in Europe since World War II.

The Ukrainian ambassador in Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, would have formally asked the Turkish government to close the straits to Russian ships as a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine, according to statements made to journalists after holding talks at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in the Turkish capital. Bodnar assured that the Turkish government has responded that it will study the Ukrainian request.

The request of the Ukrainian government, however, puts Turkey in a very difficult situation. Ankara maintains close political, economic and security ties with Ukraine, but also has good relations with Russia, sharing the Black Sea with both countries. Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, however, Turkey theoretically has the power to limit the passage of warships in the event of a conflict, but only if its own security is threatened.

“Turkey cannot remain impartial”

The Ukrainian ambassador, however, stated that Kiev expects a gesture of solidarity from a NATO member country like Turkey, stressing that Ankara cannot remain impartial after the “illegal and unjust” offensive launched by Russia, in words of the Turkish government itself.

“We ask that the airspace, and the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, be closed. We have conveyed our important demand to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want sanctions to be imposed on Russia. In particular, we demand that the assets of Russian businessmen here be confiscated,” Bodnar told reporters, calling for Ukraine to be helped with weapons, funds and humanitarian assistance.

“We also ask for support for Ukrainian citizens who are currently in Turkey, especially those who need additional protection and security,” said the Ukrainian ambassador, who stressed that this is the first time in the region that a nuclear power “starts a war” with an “open attack” against an independent country.

“Russia is attacking Ukraine on all fronts”

“The Ukrainian armed forces and our regional security units are fighting against the Russian invaders,” Bodnar said, reporting that Russia is attacking Ukraine from all fronts: from the east, in the Donbas region, from the north, through Belarus, and from the south, through annexed Crimea.

In addition to asking Turkey to close the passage through the straits to Russian warships, the Ukrainian ambassador appealed to the international community: “We ask the whole world to form a coalition against Putin to prevent the war from spreading, especially in this region. Now, all the masks have been removed, and now, we are at war.” “We hope that all the Turkish people will support Ukraine in this just cause,” he added.