Russia will return Ukrainian navy ships seized a year ago on Monday as it prepares for a summit to try and re­solve the wider conflict between the two nations.

Moscow seized two Ukrainian gun­boats and a tugboat in November last year as they headed through the Kerch Strait, a narrow waterway giving ac­cess to the Sea of Azov that is used by Ukraine and Russia.

Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors tak­en prisoner at the time were returned to Ukraine in September as part of an exchange.

“In accordance with agreements con­cluded with the Ukrainian side, three Ukrainian ships ... are being towed from the port of Kerch to an approved trans­fer point,” border officials with the Rus­sian secret service told the Interfax news agency on Sunday.

On Friday, the French presidency an­nounced a summit involving France, Ger­many, Russia and Ukraine in Paris on De­cember 9 to discuss ways to resolve the wider conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The summit had been made possible by “major advances” since Volodymyr Zelen­skyy was elected president of Ukraine in late April, the French presidency said.

Kremlin adviser Yuri Yushakov, how­ever, did not give a date for the summit in a Russian public television broadcast on Sunday. He said only it was “still under discussion, but certainly this year”.

Since coming to power, comedian-turned-President Zelenskyy has sought to revive the peace process to end a five-year-old separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has killed 13,000 people.

Since October, the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists in east­ern Ukraine have been pulling back from key front-line areas of the conflict there, a precondition for the summit to take place.