Ukraine, Russia reach deal to release ‘pilot’

epa05224467 Former Ukrainian military pilot, Nadezhda Savchenko, reacts after hearing the first part of the verdict of her trial, in the district court of Donetsk, near the border with Ukraine, in Rostov region, Russia, 21 March 2016. Nadezhda Savchenko was found guilty of assistaning in the killing of two Russian TV journalists. The court will continue reading the verdict on 22 March. Sentencing is yet to be announced, but prosecutors have asked the court for Nadezhda Savchenko to serve 23 years in prison.  EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV



Ukraine and Russia have reached a deal to release a jailed Ukrainian pilot, President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday, without elaborating if it would entail a swap for two Russian servicemen convicted by Kiev.
Nadezhda Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Russia last month for her alleged role in the deaths of two Russian journalists in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. Kiev has insisted that Savchenko is a prisoner of war and should be immediately released.
Poroshenko said on Tuesday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone call on Monday on a formula that will allow Savchenko to be returned. Poroshenko wouldn’t elaborate what that is.
“Yesterday’s phone conversation was my idea, and judging by the preparation work I think we have agreed on a certain algorithm that would allow Nadezhda’s release,” Poroshenko said during a news conference in Kiev with the Danish prime minister.
Poroshenko also said he has given orders to the foreign ministry and the justice ministry to “prepare the mechanisms to return Nadezhda Savchenko home as soon as possible.”
He would not say, however, when he expected Savchenko to be returned but added that he told Putin that he was ready to send a presidential jet to Russia to take her home. The Ukrainian president mentioned Monday’s conviction of two Russian officers in Kiev, saying that the verdict allows for the swap to go forward.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier that the two presidents talked about Savchenko as well as two Russian officers convicted on Monday of waging a war of aggression in Ukraine.

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