Russian landing ship Caesar Kunikov.Mil.ru
The Russian landing ship Caesar Kunikov did not violate a single article of the 1936 Montreux Convention on freedom of passage and navigation in the Turkish Straits while making a south-bound passage through Bosporus on Dec. 4, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.
"I'd like to stress that the Russian ship didn't violate a single article of the 1936 Montreux Convention regulating navigation in the straits, as well as the provisions of relevant Turkish instructions. Guarding a ship is a legitimate right of any crew," Zakharova said in a commentary posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.
A number of Turkish media outlets on Dec. 7 posted photos showing a Russian sailor holding a man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) on the Caesar Kunikov's deck while the ship was passing through Bosporus.
The Hurriyet newspaper reported on its website that the Turkish Foreign Ministry had told the Russian ambassador to Turkey that Ankara viewed this as a provocative act.
The Russian Embassy to Turkey later confirmed that Ambassador Andrei Karlov had been summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Turkey had spotted a sailor holding a MANPADS on the Caesar Kunikov's deck.
"For some reason, Ankara interprets this as a provocative step posing a threat. The Turkish Foreign Ministry informed our ambassador about Turkey's concerns," Zakharova said.
Turkish diplomats insisted that the event caused outrage in local media outlets, she said.
"But when our diplomats asked Turkey what exactly it saw as a violation, we didn't hear anything more coherent than some abstract references to the context and philosophy of international legal norms," she said.
"By the way, I'd [like to] point out that the photo of a sentry armed with a large-caliber machinegun on the deck of a Spanish naval ship in the Straits area for some reason didn't prompt any questions from the Turkish side and its media," Zakharova said.
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