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World Russia begins moving captured Ukrainian ships before possible handover

15:10  17 november  2019
15:10  17 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

Ukraine foes to pull back troops ahead of Russia summit

  Ukraine foes to pull back troops ahead of Russia summit Ukraine's army and Kremlin-backed separatists are set Friday to complete the last phase of a troop pullback in the war-torn east in a key step towards a high-stakes summit with Russia. Soldiers on Friday were set to signal their intention to withdraw by firing a flare before moving back a kilometre, Kiev said. Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be observing the disengagement which could be spread over several days.If the pullback goes ahead, it raises the possibility of a withdrawal along the more than 400-kilometre (249-mile) frontline.

Russia began moving three captured Ukrainian navy ships on Sunday after a Russian newspaper reported Moscow would return them to Ukraine ahead Moscow said the ships - two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat - had illegally entered its territorial waters. Kiev denied that.

Russia began moving three captured Ukrainian navy ships on Sunday after a Russian newspaper reported Moscow would return them to Ukraine ahead of a four-way summit on eastern Ukraine next month, a Reuters reporter said. The reporter in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014

KERCH, Crimea (Reuters) - Russia began moving three captured Ukrainian navy ships on Sunday after a Russian newspaper reported Moscow would return them to Ukraine ahead of a four-way summit on eastern Ukraine next month, a Reuters reporter said.

Ukrainian forces, Russian-backed separatists begin pullback in war-torn Donbass

  Ukrainian forces, Russian-backed separatists begin pullback in war-torn Donbass Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists began pulling back from a war-torn village in the Donbass region on Saturday, a significant move that could set the stage for a later summit between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in a bid to restore peace to the war-torn area. © AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov Russia-backed separatist rebels' unit walk to take their position at the new line of contact outside Petrivske, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. The Saturday pullback in the Petrivske area follows two similar movements in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014.

Russia said the Ukrainian ships were in its waters illegally because Moscow had temporarily closed an area of water for shipping . Kiev called Russia 's actions a flagrant violation of international law, because the Black Sea is free for shipping , and Crimea belongs to Ukraine .

KERCH, Crimea (Reuters) – Russia on Sunday began moving three captured Ukrainian navy ships after media reports it would return them to Ukraine ahead of.

The reporter in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, saw tug boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially travel onwards toward Ukraine.

Russia seized the ships off the coast of Crimea in November last year after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors. Moscow said the ships - two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat - had illegally entered its territorial waters. Kiev denied that.

Russia returned the sailors who had been on board the ships to Ukraine in September as part of a prisoner exchange deal.

Russia's Conversant newspaper reported on Saturday that Moscow had decided to return the ships to Ukraine and that they would be towed into the Black Sea by Russian tug boats and handed over to three Ukrainian tug boats.

Amid Trump impeachment drama, Ukrainians ponder a Putin meeting

  Amid Trump impeachment drama, Ukrainians ponder a Putin meeting “The worst thing we can do is become a bargaining chip,” Ukraine's foreign minister said of the impeachment hearings. “Unfortunately, we are such a chip now.” Some Ukrainian political figures have warned that the impeachment hearings only increase the need for rapprochement with Russia. Billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, a powerful ally of Zelensky, told the New York Times this week that he had backed away from his previous opposition to Moscow. “They’re stronger anyway. We have to improve our relations,” Kolomoisky said. “People want peace, a good life; they don’t want to be at war.

Ukraine says the Russians tried to intercept the ships , ramming the tug. Ukraine said it had informed the Russians of its plan to move its ships through the sea to Mariupol. But Russia has recently begun inspecting ships going to or from Ukrainian ports.

The seized ships were brought to Kerch, where the wounded men received medical attention. The FSB says the ships violated Russia ’s international border. On November 25, Russia 's Federal Security Service (FSB) border guards fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait area.

The move is likely to be seen as a confidence-building measure ahead of a planned summit on Ukraine next month.

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine will meet in Paris on Dec. 9 in an attempt to advance efforts for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the French presidency said on Friday.

Various Russian media outlets have reported that the ships will be returned to Ukraine without their guns and documentation.

Over 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 simmering conflict.

(Reporting by Reuters reporter in Crimea and Andrey Kuzmin in Moscow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Pompeo suggests debunked Ukraine election meddling theory should be probed .
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday suggested that Ukraine should be investigated over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 election, a debunked theory advanced by President Donald Trump that witnesses told the congressional impeachment inquiry was spread by Russian spy agencies. Pompeo was asked at a news conference if the United States should probe accusations of Ukrainian election meddling that Trump's fellow Republicans have raised in the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives probe into whether Trump abused his power for domestic political gain.

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