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Russia Returns 3 Seized Ships to Ukraine, Talks About Summit

MOSCOW—Three Ukrainian naval ships that were seized by Russia nearly a year ago have been returned, Russias Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The two gunboats and a tug were taken by the Russian coast guard on Nov. 25, 2018, as they maneuvered near the Kerch Strait that connects the Black Sea with the Azov Sea. The Kerch Strait runs between mainland Russia and Russia-annexed Crimea.

Russia claimed the Ukrainian ships had violated procedures for transiting the strait, while the Ukrainians said they were traveling in international waters.

The Russian coast guard fired shots, then seized the ships and their crew of 24 Ukrainian sailors. The sailors were detained for 10 months and returned home in September as part of a prisoner exchange.

Ukraines Foreign Ministry said that the Ukrainian authorities will conduct a thorough check of the ships to make sure that no equipment is missing. It said that regardless of the ships return, Ukraine will press the case against the Russian seizure of the ships in an international tribunal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin informed French President Emmanuel Macron about the vessels transfer in a phone call Monday.

Russia returns 3 seized Ukraine boats 1
Russia returns 3 seized Ukraine boats 1
This video grab provided by the Krym 24 tv station via AP Television shows a seized Ukrainian ship, right, being towed by a Russian coast guard boat out of the port in Kerch, Crimea on Nov. 17, 2019. (Krym 24 tv station via AP Television)

The Kremlin said in the call that the two leaders focused on the upcoming meeting of the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France to discuss a settlement for the five-year conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed at least 13,000 people. The fighting began in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and pits RussiaRead More – Source

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