Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to preserve an international convention, beneficial to Moscow, which regulates marine traffic through the Black Sea straits, Agence France-Presse reported.
Turkey last month approved plans to develop a new canal connecting İstanbul to the Black Sea, which according to the government would ease traffic on the Bosporus, one of the most congested straits in the world that has seen several shipping accidents in recent years.
The project, however, has drawn criticism over its cost and environmental impact and raised concerns over Turkey’s commitment to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which governs passage through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.
“In view of the Turkish plans to build the Istanbul Canal, the Russian side emphasized the importance of preserving the existing regime of the Black Sea straits in accordance with the provisions of the Montreux Convention of 1936 in order to ensure regional stability and security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Friday.
It followed a phone call between the Russian and Turkish leaders.
The Montreux Convention is aimed at demilitarizing the Black Sea by setting strict commercial and naval rules on passage through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Mediterranean.
The pact guarantees free passage for civilian vessels in times of both peace and war.
It also regulates the use of the straits by military vessels from non-Black Sea states, including the United States and NATO members, with which Moscow is at heightened tensions.
The treaty’s terms require foreign warships to give prior notice before passage and allow them to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days.
Earlier on Friday, Turkey said the United States will send two warships through the Bosporus to the Black Sea next week, as tensions simmer between Russia and Ukraine.
The new 45-kilometer (28-mile) canal would allow ships to transit between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea without passing through part of the straits that is covered by the treaty.