Did Russia Just Send a Submarine Through the Bosphorus?
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In a Twitter post, a respected Turkish ship-finder showed that a Kilo-class Russian submarine allegedly passed the Bosphorus in violation of the Montreux Convention. At the time of going to print, we were unable to independently confirm the report. However, if this is the case, the news would be of great importance.
The Montreux Convention, officially known as the Montreux Strait Regime, was signed in 1936 and strictly regulates maritime transport through the Bosphorus, a narrow passage that separates Greece from Turkey and connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. Although merchant ships have unrestricted access to and can pass through the Bosphorus, so-called warships are subject to various restrictions depending on the country of origin in which they were built or purchased and their tonnage.
Regarding submarines, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains: “Only submarines belonging to neighboring countries can cross the Turkish road to reach their base in the Black Sea for the first time after their construction or purchase, or for the purpose repair in shipyards outside the Black Sea. “This sly submarine appears to violate this clause.
According to the respected marine expert H I Sutton, the Russian Black Sea fleet has no nuclear powered submarines, although it has received several Project 636.3 kilo class submarines. These diesel-electric attack submarines can fire land-based and anti-ship missiles in addition to their standard torpedo armament. While the Romanian Navy also has a kilo-class submarine, it has reportedly not been sailing for years, and therefore probably not the same kilo submarine as that in this incident.
Sutton explained the effects of this latest maneuver and wrote:
“Russia was dissatisfied with the details of the agreement in the past, but adhered to the conditions for submarines. Nevertheless, submarines of the Black Sea fleet were used in the Mediterranean. They even fired cruise missiles into Syria. But they came there in a different way. These submarines were dispatched to Syria before being delivered to the Black Sea by their shipyards. So they went through “for the first time after their construction”. This last step cannot be explained that way. "
If Moscow violated the treaty, what will be the effects of this new Russian audacity?
If the Montreux Convention continues to be disregarded, Russia could potentially move submarines - and other surface warships - through the Bosphorus with impunity and possibly strengthen their position in the Mediterranean or the Black Sea.
The Mediterranean is of particular interest to Russia. Given confirmed reports of Russian activities in Libya, Russian interest in the Mediterranean is now meaningful and could serve to strengthen its position and defend its interests along Europe's southern border.
If the Montreux Convention is dead, there may be an incentive for other countries to sail their own warships or submarines into the Black Sea to monitor or challenge the Russian Black Sea fleet. Watch this evolving situation closely.
Caleb Larson is a defense writer with a national interest. He has a Master of Public Policy and deals with US and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.
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