Turkish Straits Crisis


The Turkish Straits Crisis was a Cold War era territorial conflict between the Soviet Union and Turkey who remained relatively neutral throughout World War 2. Turkey was pressured by the Soviet Union to allow Russian ships to flow freely through the Black Sea to the Mediterranean through the Turkish Straits. As British influence diminished because of World War 2 there was a power vacuum in the Mediterranean that needed to be filled and the Soviet Union saw this as an opportunity to increase its influence. However the US saw this as a threat to them and to the surrounding countries and took action.

What is important about the Turkish Straits?

The Turkish Straits was an important trade route for Turkey because it had access all over the world. The Military Strategy was that the Soviet Union could use it as an entry point or an exit point from the Black Sea. It would allow access through the Bosporus straight from Istanbul to the Aegean Sea. If Turkey gives in to the Soviet Unions request then they would give up Turkey all together.

Turkish and Soviet Unions Relations

The first tensions emerged durng the Monterux Convention in July 1936 where there was a series of negotiations that led to Turkey regaining control over the Straits and then allowed to reform their military. Turkey remained neutral throughout World War II till February 23 1945 when the Soviet Union viewed Turkeys actions by allowing Nazi Germany’s warship pass through the Straits which showed Turkey’s side to Nazi Germany. Then in March 10 the Soviet Union withdrew from the 1925 Non- Aggression pact and claimed part of eastern Turkey which the Russian Empire had held during 1878 and 1921. After the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany the Soviets returned to the issue of the Turkish Straits in 1945 and 1946.

US Involvement

The issues was brought up at the Postdam Conference, by the US president, Harry Truman. After much debate the United States decided that they did want the straight to fall into the Soviet’s control because it might lead to a Communist Turkey. The United States sent some naval fleets to east Mediterranean for Turkey and this gave Turkey the courage to say no.

A Secret telebgram was sent by the US Secretary of State dean Acheson to diplomats in Paris and it explains the United State’s position..

'In our opinion the primary objective of the Soviet Union is to obtain control over Turkey. We believe that if the Soviet Union succeeds in introducing into Turkey armed forces with the ostensible purpose of enforcing the joint control of the Straits, the Soviet Union will use these forces in order to obtain control over Turkey…. In our opinion, therefore, the time has come when we must decide that we shall resist will all means at out disposal any Soviet aggression and in particular, because the case of Turkey would be so clear, any Soviet aggression against Turkey. In carrying this policy our words and acts will only carry conviction to the Soviet Union if they are formulated against the background of an inner conviction and determination on our part that we cannot permit Turkey to become the object of Soviet aggression."

— Dean Acheson, Telegram to the Secretary of State at Paris – August 8, 1946

Works Cited