Tuesday was a busy day for Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Just the day before, on Monday, he had made an offer to Russian president Vladimir Putin via telephone to release two Russian soldiers in exchange for Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko. In addition to speaking of the possible exchange, Poroshenko and Putin agreed that Ukraine’s consul general in Rostov-on-Don will be granted access to Savchenko in the near future.
Savchenko has been on a hunger strike after recently being sentenced to 22 years in a Russian prison. In June 2014 she had been captured by Russian soldiers operating in Eastern Ukraine, and was illegally taken across the border into Russia as a hostage.
Poroshenko met with Nadiya Savchenko’s mother Mariya Ivanivna and her sister Vira to speak with the Ukrainian pilot from the Ukrainian presidential office. After the call, President Poroshenko released a statement saying that the two countries will do a prisoner swap.
Savchenko will likely be traded for a couple of Russian soldiers who were recently tried in a Ukrainian court and sentenced to 14 years in prison. In March she was sentenced to 22 years in a Russian prison.
The two Russian soldiers, Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov, were captured by Ukrainian forces and then tried and convicted of terrorism against Ukraine. As is common when Russian soldiers are captured, Moscow claims that the men were volunteers, and simply using their holiday time to fight in Ukraine.
During the call President Poroshenko complimented Savchenko on her courage, urged her to end the current hunger strike, and promised to send the presidential plane to Moscow for her as soon as details of the release were agreed upon by Russia.
At this time neither side has announced a date for the exchange, and while the Ukrainian side seems confident of the pending release, the Kremlin will only admit that Putin and Poroshenko have spoken about the pilot’s condition.