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Turkey stops Russian ships from sailing in reciprocal gesture

December 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm

The Turkish authorities have blocked 27 Russian ships from sailing towards the Mediterranean and Black Seas, claiming that they fail to meet the necessary criteria, local media reported on Wednesday.

According to the Daily Sabah, Turkey’s decision is reciprocation for a similar decision by the Russian authorities, which are, it is claimed, holding eight Turkish-registered vessels in port. Such moves are allowed for under the mutually-agreed memorandum of understanding for use of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Passage between the two has to be via the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Although security sources have revealed that the Russian maritime authorities have given the green light for Turkey to overcome this problem, no time has been set aside for meetings or discussions over the issue. Commercial traffic to and from both countries has been affected by the situation.

Moscow suspended links with Turkey when the latter downed a Russian SU-24 jet last month after it breached Turkish air space. The Russians have demanded compensation. Turkey rejects this and stressed its right to protect its air space and for its borders to be respected.

Turkish officials have been trying to ease the tension by emphasising that Russia is not an enemy of Turkey and reiterating that Russian claims about Turkish forces provoking Russian troops in Syria are an exaggeration.