Ukraine confirms Russia returning three captured naval ships

Seized Ukrainian naval ships are guarded by Russia's Coast Guard vessels in the port in Kerch, near the bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula, Crimea. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Kiev, Ukraine Nov 18, 2019, 06.20 PM (IST)

Ukraine's military confirmed on Monday that Russia is returning three Ukrainian naval ships that it captured in the Kerch Strait in November 2018.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier on Monday that Moscow had successfully handed three naval ships it captured last year back to Ukraine.

Ukraine has been pushing for their return as a goodwill gesture from Moscow ahead of a four-way peace summit on eastern Ukraine next month in Paris.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in the more than five-year-old conflict in east Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which prompted Western sanctions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy won a landslide election victory in April promising to end the conflict.

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Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier on Monday that Moscow had successfully handed three naval ships it captured last year back to Ukraine.