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On "All is Lost!", the Montreux Convention and British Minehunters for Ukraine

5 January, 2024 Friday
12:30

I follow social media and come across messages from seemingly rational people who are instigating panic regarding the two minesweepers that the British government and the Royal Navy transferred to the Ukrainian Navy last August

These were the Ramsey and Blyth ships. The transfer agreement was signed in Odesa right on board another British Navy ship, HMS Defender.

As stated in the document, the ships will be transferred to the Ukrainian Navy after "their complete inspection, repair, modernization, additional equipment and appropriate Ukrainian Navy personnel training". That is, not "now and immediately."

For reference:

The minesweeper HMS Ramsey has been in service with the Royal Navy since September 2000, having sailed 175,000 miles over the oceans. HMS Blyth has been in service since February 2001 and has sailed 185,000 nautical miles. The ships are relatively new and belong to the Sandown class of mine countermeasures minesweepers. Each displaces 450 tons, is 52.6 meters long and 10.5 meters wide. The crew is 34 people on each ship.

But back to "All is lost!" narrative. According to some of Ukraine's opinion leaders on social media (and this idea is actively spread by most Russian TV channels and other Russian propaganda media), the Turkish government (this NATO country physically controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits connecting the Mediterranean and Black Seas) has allegedly refused to allow British minesweepers to pass through.

The argument used by the "lords of thought" and propagandists is the Montreux Convention (Montreux is a town on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where the Convention was actually signed in 1936 - author's note). The Montreux Convention then established international regulations for the passage of foreign warships and civilian vessels through the straits and possible restrictions or bans on passage in the event of further military threats or even wars in Europe and the world. This is exactly what has happened now.

In the first days of 2024, Turkish Defense Minister Yashar Güler said in an interview with Kriter, an analytical magazine published by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA): "Turkey has been carefully, responsibly and impartially implementing the Montreux Straits Convention, which ensures balance in the Black Sea. We are determined to continue adhering to the provisions of the convention. Furthermore, we have launched the Trilateral Initiative led by our country, which also includes Bulgaria and Romania, against the mine danger in the Black Sea."

So, let's finally debunk the Russian PSYOP narrative that "Turkey does not allow British minesweepers to pass through for Ukraine." The truth is that the Ukrainian government has never formally requested the Turkish government to permit HMS Ramsey and HMS Blyth to traverse the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. This is a crucial point. Currently, the minesweepers are undergoing a process of "repair, modernization, additional equipment, and appropriate training of the Ukrainian Navy personnel." Consequently, any discussion about Turkey refusing passage is, at the very least, inaccurate. In reality, it amounts to a PSYOP narrative propagated by the aggressor country and its propagandists.

Secondly, and we should pay tribute to our Turkish partners for this, Turkey does not allow Russian warships outside the Black Sea to pass through the straits. And Russia's naval strength within the Black Sea is consistently diminishing as a result of its neutralization by the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

Let me remind you that in addition to the Black Sea Fleet, Russia also has the Baltic, Northern, and Pacific Fleets and the Caspian Flotilla. The total number of Russian warships that could have significantly increased the combat power of the Russian occupiers in the Black Sea by crossing the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles is enormous. And there are ten times more such ships in other Russian navies than two small minesweepers designed solely for sea mining. However, this (replenishment or even restoration of the Russian naval grouping in the Black Sea) is not happening. It is because of Ukraine's southern neighbor's position. Thank you for that.

At the same time, the Turkish government and its president have repeatedly stated the need to preserve the Ukrainian territorial integrity and the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders. In 2024, the same position was repeated by the country's Defense Minister Yashar Güler, commenting on the situation with the straits. "Regarding the confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, Turkey has continued its efforts under the leadership of our president to find a solution to this crisis since day one. In this context, we declare that the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be protected at all levels and in all venues," the Turkish Defense Minister said in an interview with Kriter.

No one denies the fact that trawling, i.e., clearing coastal waters of Russian mines, is of utmost importance not only for Ukraine, but also for Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. And the Ukrainian military, together with Ukrainian diplomats, will obviously continue to search for effective mechanisms to solve this extremely urgent problem for the entire Black Sea region.

So, dear Ukrainians, please, stop these endless "all is lost!" Don't fall for the Russian PSYOP.

Exclusively for Espreso

About the author. Yehor Checherynda, Ukrainian Armed Forces officer, journalist, TV presenter

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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