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MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Reports claiming that a Turkish submarine appeared near a Russian ship in the Dardanelles Strait on Tuesday on purpose are far-fetched, because shipping in this area is very busy and the submarine’s encounter with a Russian naval ship was purely accidental, a military-diplomatic source told TASS.
Earlier, Turkey’s daily Milliyet said that a Turkish submarine earlier in the day encountered a large cargo and passenger transport ship of the Russian Navy - The Yauza - when it was passing through the Dardanelles Strait from the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The Russian ship was escorted by a Turkish coast guard boat, just as the protocols require. The Turkish submarine appeared near it at the exit to the Sea of Marmara. The submarine was on the move in a surface position. It passed by the Russian transport ship several hundred meters away in the opposite direction, towards the Aegean Sea, the daily said.
"This is an absolutely far-fetched speculation. The strait is a two-way street. It was sheer coincidence that a submarine sailed past a Russian transport ship. Naval ships and ships of other fleets pass through the strait in either direction, too. According to the law of the sea any submarines are obliged to move in the surface position. And it is only natural that various civilian ships may be coming their way," the source said.
The ships move past each other in accordance with the international convention regarding the regime of the straits (the Montreux Convention). In such complex situations for navigation submarines will never accompany other ships.
"Any encounter of two ships in the Dardanelles Strait is not a reason for speculating about tensions in the region. Traffic there looks pretty much like round-the-clock flow of vehicles on a busy road. Of course, there are certain nuances. Weather may get bad and then the movement of all ships is restricted to avoid collisions or any other incidents. Some ships may be asked to pause for a while on either side, and those ships may not necessarily be Russian," the source said.
The Montreux Convention of 1936 set the rules of shipping in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. It was signed in Montreux, Switzerland, on July 20, 1936 to take effect on November 9 of the same year. On the original list of its signatories there were eleven countries - the Soviet Union, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Britain, Cyprus (starting from 1969), Turkey, Yugoslavia, Japan and France. If Turkey is involved in combat operations or if it decides a war threat to it is real, it is empowered to grant or deny permission to any naval ships to move through the straits. When a war Turkey is not involved in is in progress the straits should be closed to the naval ships of all warring countries.