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Russia warns NATO over violation of Montreux Convention

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on February 7, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

The Russian government says it has witnessed some violations of the Montreux Convention by NATO members, amid soaring tensions between Moscow and the West, and emphasizes that such a situation is “unacceptable.”

Speaking at an online briefing in Moscow on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, “We do not ignore them (violations) and declare this practice unacceptable through our diplomatic channels.”

“It is not surprising, since those who engaged in this are throwing themselves into the ideology of replacing international law with a rules-based order,” the Russian senior diplomat added.

Ryabkov recalled that the Montreux Convention had proved to be contributing to the stability of the Black Sea region for decades, but the Western states ignore this fact and prefer to insist on their rightness instead of being guided by international law.

The Convention, signed in 1936 in the city of Montreux, permits free passage to trade ships through the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles.

Meanwhile, according to the Convention, the military ships of non-Black Sea nations are not allowed in the straits, while Black Sea nations may move military ships of any class and size through the straits.

The development comes on the heels of a top-level video call between US President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin, who asked for security guarantees upon the halt of NATO's eastward expansion.

“If our opponents on the other side - above all the United States but also other countries, its allies, so-called like-minded countries - if they refuse, and try and torpedo this, they will inevitably get a further worsening of their own security situation,” Ryabkov noted.

“Not to agree would mean to move closer towards a big confrontation,” he warned, adding that “the appearance of short- and medium-range weapons on these territories is a direct route to escalating confrontation.”

Russia and NATO have recently been at odds over the Ukrainian dispute and Russia’s deployment of troops and armaments in the borderline. However, Moscow says its posture is purely defensive and comes in response to increased NATO activity there.

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