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Russia returns seized ships to Ukraine, talks about talks

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Ukraine’s 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 would 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.

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 Russia-backed separatists against Ukrainian troops.

The Kremlin said Putin and Macron agreed the meeting scheduled for December 9 should help “quickly and fully” implement a 2015 peace plan for eastern Ukraine that was brokered by France and Germany. The Minsk agreement envisages broad autonomy for the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and an amnesty for the rebels.

The Kremlin said Putin and Macron also talked about the need for Ukraine to fulfil its obligations under the political aspects of the deal, including passing a law giving a special status to the rebel regions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow expected France to make sure that the four-way meeting “underlines that the Minsk agreement is inviolable and has no alternative.”

AP

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