Turkey’s construction of the Istanbul Canal is unlikely to threaten Moscow’s security. However, it may undermine Russia’s support of its regional allies, Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris Dolgov told TASS on Wednesday.
“The immediate security of Russia is unlikely to be affected,” the expert noted. “However, as for foreign policy interests and Russia’s support of its allied countries, say Syria, for example, the project does raise some concerns. I would even say that to some extent it threatens foreign policy and Russia’s support of its allies and partners in the region,” the commentator noted, adding that the supply of Russian troops in Syria is carried out through the Bosporus.
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Besides, the oriental scholar said that Turkey’s potential pullout from the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, which is being discussed within the Turkish establishment, affects Russia’s foreign policy interests as well.
Dolgov added that the planned construction of the waterway is a continuation of Turkey’s policy aimed at establishing itself as a regional center of power. “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that for the first time since the Second World War, an opportunity has opened up for Ankara to strengthen its geopolitical role. And this project is a continuation of this policy aimed at bolstering Turkey’s influence and expansionism, both politically and economically, and to strengthen the country’s geopolitical role, this is obvious,” he explained.
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Earlier, Erdogan stated that under no circumstances would Turkey abandon the implementation of the Istanbul Canal project to the west of the Bosporus Strait. The project was first announced by Erdogan in 2011 and it is meant to become a new shipping lane connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. In December 2019, the Turkish leader suggested that sea traffic through the Istanbul Canal would not be subject to the Montreux Convention.
About the convention
The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits was signed in 1936. The convention guarantees free passage of trade vessels, while the passage of naval ships is restricted. Black Sea states can move their warships through the canal if they notify Turkey beforehand, while non-Black Sea states face significant restrictions regarding the class and the tonnage of naval ships.
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