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Soviet Aircraft Carriers

Volume 387: debated on Monday 14 November 1977

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What information they have about further aircraft carriers being constructed by the Soviet Union in the Black Sea; whether they have any comment to make on the impropriety of such vessels moving through the Straits into the Mediterranean, in breach of the Treaty of Montreux, and whether the subject has been raised with the Soviet Government.

My information is that there are two further ships of the same class as the "Kiev" under construction in the Black Sea. Her Majesty's Government continue to hold the view that the passage of the "Kiev" and of similar ships through the Straits is not compatible with the Montreux Convention. Some other friendly Governments party to the convention, and in particular the Turkish Government, hold a contrary view. The legal issues are complicated. Her Majesty's Government's view has been made known to friendly States and has been made public both here and in another place. I have no doubt therefore that the Soviet authorities are aware of our views. In common with other Governments, Her Majesty's Government have not, in these circumstances, considered it appropriate to raise the matter formally with the Soviet Government.