ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey said on Tuesday it would not allow two British minehunter ships to transit its waters en route to the Black Sea for use by Ukraine since it would violate an international pact concerning wartime passage of the straits.

Britain said last month it would transfer two Royal Navy minehunter ships to the Ukrainian Navy to help strengthen Ukraine’s sea operations in its war with Russia.

NATO member Turkey informed allies that it would not allow the vessels to use its Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits as long as the war in Ukraine continues, said the presidency’s communications directorate.

When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Turkey triggered the 1936 Montreux Convention, effectively blocking passage of military ships for the warring parties. The pact exempts ships returning to home bases.

Turkey has implemented Montreux impartially and meticulously to prevent escalation in the Black Sea, the presidency said.

Ankara maintains good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow amid the war.

(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Gareth Jones)

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