Ukraine, Russia Reach Deal to Release Pilot, Poroshenko Says

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 5:23 PM

Nadezhda Savchenko, who was captured by Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine in two thousand-fourteenth, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison in Russia latest mo for her alleged role in the deaths of two Russian journalists.

Ukraine and Russia have reached a deal to free a jailed Ukrainian pilot, President Petro Poroshenko said Tuesday, suggesting that she'll be swapped for two Russian servicemen jailed in Ukraine this week.

Nadezhda Savchenko, who was captured by Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine in two thousand-fourteenth, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison in Russia latest mo for her alleged role in the deaths of two Russian journalists.

Her capture and trial became a rallying point for Ukrainians at residence and abroad.

"I think we've agreed on a certain algorithm that'd authorize Nadezhda'south release," Poroshenko said Tuesday, a day after he'd a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking at a televised news conference in Kiev with the Danish prime minister, he mentioned Monday'south conviction of two Russian officers in Kiev, saying that the decision "gives opportunities to launch the mechanism of a swap."

In a sign that the swap could be imminent, an attorney for one of the men told the Interfax news agency that the two Russians wouldn't lodge an appeal against the verdict.

Later Tuesday, Poroshenko tweeted that he'd a telephone conversation with Savchenko together with the pilot'south mother and sister, and had urged her to stop a hunger strike that she went on last month.

Savchenko'south lawyer Ilya Novikov told The Associated Press that the pilot has agreed to start taking food.

It wasn't immediately clear how the call with Savchenko, who's kept in a detention facility in southern Russia, was arranged.

Savchenko, who's a professional pilot, enlisted in a volunteer Ukrainian battalion in summer two thousand fourteen to fight the separatist rebels in the Luhansk region. She was captured by the rebels and re-surfaced in Russian custody on the other side of the border. Moscow claimed Savchenko escaped from the separatists and was caught in Russia, while the Ukrainian claims she was abducted and smuggled into Russia.

Poroshenko wouldn't declare when he expected Savchenko to be returned but added that he told Putin that he was prepared to send a presidential jet to Russia to get her home.

Putin'south spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier Tuesday that the two presidents talked about Savchenko as well as the two Russian officers convicted on Monday of waging a war of aggression in Ukraine.

A Kiev Ct on Monday sentenced Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev to fourteen years in prison after finding them guilty of terrorism and waging war in eastern Ukraine. The two, who were captured latest year, acknowledged being Russian officers but the Russian defense ministry claimed they'd resigned from active duty.

Peskov wouldn't reply to Poroshenko'south statement when contacted by the Interfax news agency, but only said that Savchenko'south future was discussed during Monday's call.

———

Dmytro Vlasov in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

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