Kyiv, 24 February 2022 (TDI): After Russia launched air and military raids on its neighbor, Ukraine has asked Turkey to restrict the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships.

Likewise, it has urged Turkey to impose sanctions on Moscow. The remarks were made by Ukraine’s Ambassador to Ankara, today, in the light of latest developments.

Turkey shares a Black Sea border with Russia and opposes sanctions but has censured Russian actions against Ukraine, offering to mediate. Ankara has control of the straits via a 1936 accord and can restrict warship transit if threatened or during hostilities.

At a press conference in Ankara, Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar stated that “We demand that the airspace, as well as the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, be closed. We have sent our pertinent request to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want Russian officials to face penalties.”

Bodnar told Reuters on Wednesday that the presence of Russian vessels on Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline was a threat, and that if Moscow invaded, Ukraine would ask Ankara to consider closing its two straits to Russian ships.

Six Russian warships and a submarine transited the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits to the Black Sea earlier this month for military drills in Ukrainian waters, according to Moscow.

In an interview with Reuters, Bodnar said the presence of Russian warships near Ukrainian borders constitutes “a big danger” to Kyiv, adding that the Russian naval concentration in the Black Sea was “overpowering.”

“We believe that in the event of a large-scale military invasion or the commencement of military operations against Ukraine – when the war becomes not just de facto but also de jure – we will ask the Turkish government to consider blocking the Black Sea straits to the aggressor state,” he said.

The Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Mediterranean and Black seas, are under NATO member, Turkey’s jurisdiction under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

The accord grants Ankara the authority to limit naval warship transit and to close the straits to foreign warships during times of conflict or when the country is threatened.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Turkey, which has strong links with both Ukraine and Russia, could not cast aside either nation and would take steps to maintain its relationships.

“We cannot forsake any (country),” he said, asking both Ukraine and Russia to resume dialogue and NATO to “define its stand” and “do whatever it will” during a summit on Wednesday.

Ankara has supplied advanced drones to Ukraine and inked a pact to co-produce more while establishing close-knit collaboration with Russia on defense and energy.

Erdoğan urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Turkey did not accept moves against Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Erdoğan told Putin in a phone call that military confrontation in the region would benefit no one and reiterated his offer to help resolve the crisis, according to his office.

Furthermore, Erdoğan also said he cherished Putin’s close cooperation on regional matters and intended to maintain it.