Russia Returns Ukraine Naval Ships before Summit

Seized Ukrainian naval ships are towed by Russia's Coast Guard vessels out of the port in Kerch

Russia returns captured ships to Ukraine, paving road to 'Normandy' summit

Russian Federation on Monday began the process of handing over three captured naval ships to Ukraine in the Black Sea, the TASS news agency cited a security source as saying.

The summit used to be made that you may maybe perchance maybe maybe be mindful by "most major advances" since Volodymyr Zelensky used to be elected president of Ukraine in unhurried April, the French presidency talked about.

By sending the ships to Crimea, Ukraine committed a "crime not only against the sovereignty of the Russian Federation but also against the Ukrainian citizens who were deliberately endangered and forced to commit offences", the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian warships en route from Odessa in the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov illegally crossed Russia's state border, entered Russia's territorial waters and started performing unsafe maneuvers.

The Russian coast guard fired shots, then seized the ships and their crew of 24 Ukrainian sailors. Ukraine, in turn, has obligations to introduce European energy legislation by the end of the year. Russian authorities eventually arrested all 24 sailors and later put them on trial for "illegally crossing the border".

Despite those and other continuing tensions, the handover is likely to be seen as a confidence-building measure ahead of the planned Ukraine summit however.

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In Berlin, a foreign ministry spokesman said that for the first time in a long time there has been "some movement" in the conflict. In addition, Russian Federation is ready to resume gas supplies to Ukraine, which were discontinued in 2015, at a price reduced by 25%.

The structure for the talks is known as the "Normandy format" after a first meeting brought together the four heads of state in France's Normandy region in 2014.

However, fighting along the line of contact has continued on an nearly daily basis and the two sides have failed to agree on a way to implement elements of the deal created to end the war there.

The ships are being towed to a location agreed upon by Moscow and Kiev, said the border guard in Crimea.

Relations between Ukraine and Russian Federation collapsed following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which prompted Western sanctions.

It was followed over the last few weeks by the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops and separatist forces from several flashpoint areas along the frontline.

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