Russia, Ukraine discuss transfer of seized ships

MOSCOW 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky over the phone, the Kremlin said.

According to the statement, published on the Kremlin website the two presidents touched upon the situation with the transfer of three Ukrainian ships seized near the Kerch Strait last year.

Last week, Russia transferred to Ukraine three vessels seized in November 2018 along with 24 crew members for entering waters in the Kerch Strait, provoking conflict.

The crew was returned in September as part of a prisoners swap.

The two leaders also discussed the upcoming summit of the Normandy Four — Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia — format and renewal of the contracts on the Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine.

The press office of the Ukrainian leader confirmed the two presidents held a phone talk.

“The head of state noted the importance of Russia’s recent return of Ukrainian ships. At the same time, Volodymyr Zelensky noted the need to return all weapons, equipment and documentation on these vessels,” it said in a statement.

Russia, Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula after a controversial referendum.

Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, views the annexation as illegal.

Ukraine has also blames Kremlin for separatist violence in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia.
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