Turkey: Erdogan power play over Putin as missile-laden warships descend on Bosphorus

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As Russian troops continue to move towards Kyiv, at what experts have been dubbing a much slower pace than Putin anticipated, the Kremlin has notified Turkey of new plans to bombard Ukraine. Fighting in Ukraine has entered its eighth day and in hopes of escalating the Kremlin’s progress, Putin reportedly asked Ankara to send one of Moscow’s warships, loaded up with cruise missiles, through the heart of Istanbul.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in the past has had a close relationship with the Kremlin, was not quick to accept the request.

On Monday, Erdogan suggested he would invoke a clause in the 1936 Montreux Convention, which allows the nation to deny the passage of naval vessels belonging to warring parties.

He said: “We have the authority and we have decided to use it in a way that will prevent the crisis from escalating.”

Two Western officials told the FT that although four Russian vessels had planned to traverse the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, the vessels did not make the journey over the weekend. 

One senior Western diplomat told the publication: “What happens if Russia decides to violate the terms of Montreux, as it has done in the past?

“Would Turkey try to intercept a Russian warship? Would we even want them to do that?”

On Monday, President Erdogan stressed that Turkey will not give up on relations with both Russia and Ukraine.

This comes after Turkey refused to join countries in imposing sanctions on Russia in order to cripple the economy in response to the attacks on Ukraine.

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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mavlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday evening that the NATO member would not be following Western nations in implementing sanctions, TRT World News reported.

The move to not side with the Kremlin has prompted some to believe Turkey may patch up ties with the West.

One senior western diplomat told the FT: “Could this be a turning point? That is something we are asking ourselves.

“I think Erdogan is shocked — and maybe even feels betrayed — by what Putin has done.”

However, Turkey is not the only formerly close nation to take a stand.

Kazakhstan, which is considered as one of Russia’s closest allies, denied a request for its troops to join the offensive in Ukraine and will not recognise the so-called republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The former Soviet republic instead sent an aeroplane carrying humanitarian aid to Ukraine yesterday.

The US National Security Council said in a statement: “We welcome Kazakhstan’s announcement that they will not recognise the LPR and DPR.

“We also welcome Kazakhstan’s refusal to send its forces to join Putin’s war in Ukraine.”

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