A senior Kremlin adviser said that a major summit aimed at resolving the more-than-five-year-old conflict in Ukraine could be held before the end of the year.
The November 17 comments by Yury Ushakov on state-run channel television echoed similar remarks from a Kremlin spokesman, a signal that the Kremlin was supportive of new efforts to find an end to the war that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014
France last week announced that a meeting of leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine had been scheduled for December 9, but there has been no confirmation from Moscow.
Speaking on November 17 on Rossia-1 TV, Ushakov said that a meeting would be held this year.
'I think there will be a chance to organize [the summit] this year,' Ushakov said. 'I can't say the exact date, because it is still under discussion, but, obviously, this year.'
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that any potential summit would not be directly tied to the adoption of a special status for eastern Ukraine. That has been a sticking point in past negotiations.
Kyiv and Moscow have made substantive steps to ease tensions, more than five years after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula and fomented a separatist war in eastern Ukraine.
Earlier this year, the two sides exchanged prisoners for the first time. And this month, Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed fighters began withdrawing from a village in eastern Ukraine.
Also on November 17, Russia began towing three captured Ukrainian Navy ships away from a Crimea port, in what appeared to be a move toward returning the ships to Kyiv.
With reporting by Interfax
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