Ukraine asks Turkey to close Black Sea waterways to Russia 

Ukraine asked Turkey to shut the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships, Ukrainian Ambassador to Ankara Vasyl Bodnar said on Feb. 24. After his meeting at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Bodnar said that Turkey will evaluate Ukraine's request.

Reuters - Duvar English 

Ukraine has asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships and wants sanctions imposed on Moscow, Ukraine's ambassador to Ankara said on Feb. 24, after Russia launched air and ground assaults on its neighbor.

NATO member Turkey Ukraine, which shares a maritime Black Sea border with Ukraine and Russia, opposes sanctions but has called Russian steps against Ukraine unacceptable. Under a 1936 pact, Ankara has control over the straits and can limit warship passages if it is threatened or during wartime. 

"We are calling for the air space, Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to be closed. We have conveyed our relevant demand to the Turkish side. At the same time, we want sanctions imposed on the Russian side," Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar told a news conference in Ankara.

After his meeting at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Bodnar said that Turkey will evaluate Ukraine's request. Speaking to reporters, he said that his country expected solidarity from Turkey and that it should not remain impartial to Russia's offensive. 

Turkey to provide support to citizens wanting to leave Ukraine

Earlier on Feb. 24, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that it would provide necessary support and guidance to citizens wishing to leave Ukraine.

The ministry also advised Turkish citizens to stay at home or in a safe place and avoid traveling.

Separately, flag carrier Turkish Airlines said it canceled all flights to Ukraine on Feb. 24 because of the closure of Ukrainian air space.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Feb. 23 that Turkey did not recognize steps against Ukraine's territorial integrity, his office said, after Russia recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Putin's decision prompted a wave of sanctions from Western powers on Russia. NATO member Turkey, which is a neighbor of Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, opposes sanctions in principle, but has called the Russian move unacceptable, while offering to mediate. 

In a call, Erdoğan told Putin that military conflict in the region would not benefit anyone and repeated his offer to help solve the crisis, his office said in a statement, adding Erdoğan said he valued Putin's close cooperation on regional issues and wanted to continue this.

"President Erdoğan, who renewed his call for the matter to be resolved through dialogue, stated that it was important to bring diplomacy to the forefront, and that (Turkey) continued its constructive stance in NATO as well."

Putin expressed disappointment to Erdoğan at what he said were attempts by Washington and NATO to ignore Russia's security demands, Interfax cited the Kremlin as saying. 

Earlier, Erdoğan was cited by media as saying Turkey cannot abandon its ties with Russia or Ukraine, and criticised Western diplomatic efforts with Moscow as achieving little.

"It is not possible for us to abandon either (country)," he was cited as saying by Turkish broadcasters, and called on both Ukraine and Russia to resume negotiations, while urging NATO to "determine its stance" and "do whatever it will" after a summit on Feb. 23.

"Our aim is that we take such a step that, God willing, we sort this out without abandoning either one."