MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. The process of returning the Ukrainian ships detained on November 25, 2018 by Russia in the Kerch Strait is at its final stage, Andrei Yermak, aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, told the Novoye Vremya daily on Saturday.
"The process of returning small armored boats Berdyansk and Nikopol, as well as the Yany Kapu tugboat, seized last November, is already at its final stage," the newspaper quotes Yermak as saying.
Earlier, the Kommersant daily informed, citing unnamed sources, that Russia aims to return the detained ships to Ukraine before the Normandy Four summit.
On Friday, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron informed that the summit would take place on December 9, 2019 in Paris.
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.
On September 7, Moscow and Kiev carried out a "35 for 35" exchange of detainees, which included the 24 Ukrainian sailors detained in the Kerch Strait.