Ukraine's Poroshenko says deal reached with Russia to return pilot

A deal has been reached for Russia to return the Ukraine conflict's most famous prisoner, military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Tuesday.

Poroshenko told reporters that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin made the deal in a phone call on Monday, state news agency Ukrinform reported.

"It seems to me that we were able to agree on a certain plan to free Nadiya," Poroshenko said at a press conference with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in Kiev.

Poroshenko did not disclose the details of the plan, but said the deal was facilitated by Ukraine's conviction on Monday of two Russian men for waging war in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin said in a statement late Monday that Putin and Poroshenko had a conversation about "Savchenko and the destiny of Russian citizens Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov."

Alexandrov and Yerofeyev were sentenced by a Kiev court to up to 14 years in prison for illegally crossing the Ukrainian border and engaging in a terrorist attack on Ukrainian military forces.

Ukraine alleges that the men were Russian soldiers participating in a military operation. Russia's Defence Ministry said they were former soldiers who had left the military before entering Ukraine.

Late last month, a Russian court near the Ukrainian border sentenced Savchenko to 22 years in prison for murder, for giving Ukrainian national forces the coordinates for an attack in which two Russian journalists were killed in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukraine conflict erupted in 2014 after Kiev ousted its pro-Russian president amid mass protests calling for closer ties with the West.

More than 8,000 people have died in the conflict, according to estimates by the United Nations.

Last update: Tue, 19/04/2016 - 16:32

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