Turkey to Block U.K. Minesweepers on Loan to Ukraine from Black Sea

January 3, 2024 6:02 PM
HMS Chiddenfold. US Navy Photo

Turkey will not let minesweepers loaned to Ukraine by the United Kingdom into the Black Sea, the Turkish president’s directorate of communications said this week.

The United Kingdom announced in December that it would loan two minehunters to Ukraine to help Ukraine protect shipping lanes in the Black Sea that have come under attack from Russian forces. In particular, sea mines have been a concern in the Black Sea since the beginning of the war. Both Ukraine and Russia have deployed mines in the region.

However, Turkey is restricting any warships belonging to non-Black Sea nations from entering the Black Sea by invoking the Montreux Convention and closed the Bosphorus Strait to the loaned ships.

Under the 1936 treaty, Turkey has the right to close the Turkish straits to the Black Sea. While ships of non-belligerent countries, in this case any country that is not Ukraine or Russia, can sail into the Black Sea during war time, the Montreux Convention ultimately leaves the decision on if warships can pass through to Turkey, if the country fears it could be pulled into the war.

Turkey announced early on in the Russia invasion into Ukraine that it would not allow non-Black Sea nations to sail through the Turkish straits. In this case, Turkey can deny minesweepers if it deems them to be U.K. warships.

“Our pertinent allies have been duly apprised that the mine-hunting ships donated to Ukraine by the United Kingdom will not be allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits to the Black Sea as long as the war continues,” the directorate of communications said in a statement.

Last month, a cargo ship picking up Ukrainian grain hit a Russian mine, The Associated Press reported. Another ship also hit a mine in November.

Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, all Black Sea nations, are expected to sign a deal to help clear mines in the Black Sea in January, Reuters reported.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox