August 28, 2008

Russian Lawfare

Russia is attempting to bring up old treaties regarding Black Sea naval forces:

"Can NATO - which is not a state located in the Black Sea - continuously increase its group of forces and systems there? It turns out that it cannot," Nogovitsyn was quoted as saying Wednesday by the Interfax news agency.

Actually, NATO can, and for several reasons. The first is that a majority of the Black Sea coast is made up of NATO members (Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria) or nations that do not object to the current mission (Ukraine, Georgia). None of the military restrictions on naval forces apply to these three NATO countries.
The Montreux Convention of 1936 lets small military vessels from outside the Black Sea zone transit without restriction so long as they do not displace more than 10,000 tons. The USCGC Dallas which is currently visiting Georgia for humanitarian purposes displaces 3,250 tons.

There is a further problem with the Montreux Convention regarding the US. We never signed it. We were invited to the negotiations, but declined to even send an observer to the conference. So long as our allies in Turkey keep letting our ships in, and Turkey has the right to waive restrictions, we're not obligated to observe any limits.

Turkey's ability to waive has served different powers at different times, including the USSR/Russia. Aircraft carriers are not supposed to transit the Dardanelles but the Soviets were permitted to do so in 1976 and 1979. And when the PRC acquired a former Soviet aircraft carrier it was, eventually, permitted to transit the straits as well in 2001.

Posted by TMLutas at August 28, 2008 09:39 AM