Russian Federation returns captured ships to Ukraine, paving road to 'Normandy' summit

Two Ukrainian navy gunboats and a tugboat were seized in November 2018 in the Kerch Strait

A Reuters reporter in Crimea saw tug boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait towards the Black Sea where they could potentially travel onwards towards Ukraine.

Russian Federation is set to return Ukrainian navy ships seized a year ago, as it prepares for a summit to try to resolve the wider conflict between them, Interfax news agency said Sunday. Articles appear on for a limited time.

Crimea's border service was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

Ukraine's tugboat Yany Kapu and two armored naval boats Berdyansk and Nikopol, seized by Russian Federation near the Kerch Strait in November 2018, will be returned to Ukraine on Monday, October 18, according to the press service of the so-called "Russia's FSB Border Department in Crimea".

"In accordance with agreements reached with Ukraine three Ukrainian ships ... are being towed to a location agreed with the Ukrainian side for their handover, which will take place on November 18", Crimea's border service said on Sunday, according to Russian news agencies.

Moscow never claimed that it would return the Ukrainian warships involved in the Kerch Strait incident back to Kiev, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow and Kiev exchanged prisoners in September and this month Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels began withdrawing from a village in the disputed Donbass region.

Various Russian media outlets have reported that the ships will be returned to Ukraine without their ammunition and documentation.

A senior Kremlin adviser said that a major summit aimed at resolving the more-than-five-year-old conflict in Ukraine could be held before the end of the year.

"I think there will be a chance to organise (the summit) this year".



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