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Turkey scraps NATO drills in Black Sea — Analysis

Some exercises will not move ahead due to continuing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, Turkey’s top diplomat said

NATO drills for the Black Sea were postponed, or cancelled outright by Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister. He cited a long-standing convention that gives Ankara the right to veto naval deployments in this region.

Speaking to Anadolu for an interview on Tuesday, the FM explained Turkey’s reluctance to go along with a Western sanctions campaign on Moscow in response to its attack on Ukraine, stating that his country is seeking to avoid increased tensions as it attempts to broker a negotiated end to the conflict. 

“If we had joined the sanctions, we would not have been able to fulfill the mediation role that we have now. We applied the Montreux Convention to warships, but the airspace, that corridor, we have to keep it open,”He spoke of a 1936 deal that gave Turkey the right to control maritime traffic across the Black Sea.

“We have, in accordance with the convention, canceled or postponed planned NATO drills. We play an important role, and we fulfill our obligations,”Cavusoglu has been added.

Turkey invoked the Montreux Convention, denying a number Russian warships access through the Bosporus Strait to the Black Sea since February’s start of the conflict in Ukraine. But, the Montreux Convention provides that vessels can return to their homes ports.

Although the foreign minister was unable to specify the drills that had been cancelled or rescheduled for the time being, NATO has conducted numerous exercises throughout Europe over the last few weeks. This included a set of drills held in Estonia last month, which involved 15,000 troops representing 14 nations. The drills took place just 40 miles away the closest Russian military base. 

NATO forces held a Black Sea-based training mission. The American Navy SEALs conducted drills on foreign special operations units in the Trojan Footprint annual exercise. This event involved more than 3300 soldiers representing 30 different countries. It was held in Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Germany and Greece. Ukraine, too, was slated to take part in the drills before Moscow launched its attack, having participated in 2021’s Trojan Footprint. 

NATO air policing along the Black Sea was also intensified in April, seeing Dutch fighter jets deployed to bolster the Bulgarian Air Force following a series of similar moves to shore up the alliance’s “eastern flank.” 

Cavusoglu went on to argue that Turkey’s role as broker between Moscow and Kiev is “welcomed”Many other countries insist that Ankara will only accept sanctions against Russia if brought to it by the United Nations. 

“Everyone can now impose sanctions on anyone they want. They can do that. We have chosen the role of mediator, we are trying to make things easier,”He stated. 

The FM’s comments come one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan floated a new offer for negotiations between the warring parties in Istanbul, making the proposal during a call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. 

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