19:23 GMT15 July 2020
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    The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, which restricts the naval presence of non-Black Sea states in the region, is a key security guarantee and must be upheld amid NATO's plans to expand its regional presence, Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — NATO decided to boost its naval presence in the Black Sea during February's ministerial meeting. The alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated ministers resolved to step up naval exercises as well as create a coordination mechanism for NATO operations in the region, adding that the move was in line with international obligation including the Montreux Convention. Russia has repeatedly criticized NATO's plans for the Black Sea, calling these provocative and stressing that only the Black Sea states could make such decisions.

    "Regarding NATO military plans in the Black Sea, it was indeed stated that the Romanian brigade would be transformed into a multinational brigade, that the air power of extra-regional states would be boosted, that attempts to create some kind of Black Sea force would be made. Given this, it must be recalled that the Montreux Convention significantly restricts the presence of extra-regional forces in the region… We will firmly insist that this convention, which is one of the guarantees of military stability in the region over many years and decades, that it's regime be strictly observed," Grushko said in an interview.

    The Montreux Convention was signed in 1936 and gave Turkey control over the Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits, as well as giving free passage to all civilian ships while significantly restricting naval passage for non-Black Sea states. Regional states' naval traffic is allowed unrestricted in peacetime. Russia is one of the Black Sea states with access to the Mediterranean via the Turkish-controlled straits.

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    Montreux Convention, NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, Black Sea
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