NATO Close to Violating Agreements on Black Sea Straits

NATO continues to send warships to the northeastern sector of the Black Sea. Its naval presence in the Black Sea area now amounts to ten vessels with a total tonnage of just under 45 thousand.

At a Moscow news briefing Wednesday, Deputy Chief of Staff General Anatoli Nogovitsin called attention to the fact that this is the permitted limit on such tonnage under a standing international agreement for the Black Sea Straits:

The Black Sea is far too small for what NATO would pack into it. These 45 thousand tons are the ceiling, and no power outside the Black Sea basin has the right to exceed it.

The agreement in question came into being in 1936 at a conference in Switzerland. The original signatories to it were the Soviet Union, Turkey, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece, Yugoslavia, Great Britain, France, Australia and Japan. It opened the Turkish Straits to unlimited commercial traffic but imposed limits on outside naval access to the Black Sea. No power outside the Black Sea basin is allowed to deploy big surface ships or submarines or keep its naval forces in the Sea for more than three weeks.

The General also told the press that Russia’s naval forces in the Black Sea are to stay unchanged. He said beef-ups do nothing but heighten tensions in the surrounding area.

[Source: The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 27Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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