MOSCOW, November 18. /TASS/. The Kremlin is getting prepared for a summit in the Normandy format due on December 9, with preparations being at the final stage, Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
"The Normandy format [summit] is scheduled for December 9, indeed. Preparations are underway and have already entered the final stage," he said.
Peskov confirmed that the summit would be held in Paris but refrained from comments on the concrete agenda of the event, saying only that "the modality of the nuances is still being agreed."
The Kremlin spokesman noted that it was too early to speak about any documents that might be signed at the meeting. "It is too early to ask such questions," he said.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also declined to put forward any forecasts on the outcome of the event. "I will not state any expectations regarding the Normandy Four [summit]. This is a very significant and much anticipated meeting," he told reporters on Monday. Peskov recalled that "there had been a long break in the work of the Normandy format."
"Let’s neither overestimate expectations, so as not to be disappointed later on nor underrate them hoping that the preparations will yield their results," he commented.
Apart from that, the Kremlin spokesman informed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have an international telephone conversation later in the day. He did not say however who the Russian president was going to speak with, noting only that the conversation "will be largely linked with the arrangements for the Normandy format."
The administration of the French president announced on November 15 that Paris would host a Normandy Quartet summit on December 9.
Talks in the so-called Normandy format over Ukraine began in June 2014. During special ceremonies on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the allied landings in Normandy during World War II, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany for the first time discussed ways of settling the conflict in Donbass. A number of telephone conversations and summit meetings, as well as contacts between foreign ministers have been held since. The latest summit in the Normandy format was held in Berlin in October 2016.
Return of Ukrainian warships
Russia’s decision on returning Ukrainian warships, which were seized by Russian border guards a year ago during the Kerch Strait incident, is not related to an international tribunal, the Kremlin spokesman told reporters on Monday.
"This [the return of warships] is not linked to an international tribunal. There is no and can be no link to this," Peskov stressed.
Speaking on the vessels’ handover, the spokesman recalled that they had violated Russia’s state border.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ruled on May 25 that Russia should release Ukrainian sailors and return the vessels to Ukraine. Russia notified the tribunal that it would not take part in the hearing as it did not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction in the case.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on Monday that Moscow had returned three Ukrainian vessels to Kiev, which were seized a year ago in the Kerch Strait.
On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters in the Kerch Strait and started performing dangerous maneuvers. Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea, along with 24 Ukrainian sailors.