Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko released in prisoner swap with Russia

Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian fighter pilot captured by Russia and accused of killing two journalists in Eastern Ukraine, was freed in a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine.
Nadiya Savchenko
© Reuters/Scanpix

In return for Savchenko's freedom, Russia received Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov, two elite Russian military intelligence members captured in eastern Ukraine that Russia claimed were off-duty during their time in Ukraine.

In a trial that Savchenko called a farce, she was sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing the two journalists, who she says were uncredentialed and in a combat zone.

The Russian Kommersant newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said that the release had been negotiated in a phone call between Russian president Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and French president Francois Hollande.

Many, especially in Ukraine, see her release as a victory, since she has become a sort of national hero in Ukraine. However, the decision also comes just a few weeks before the European Union decides on whether or not it should extend its sanctions against Russia, which were enacted in response to Russia's invasion of Eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ukrainian MP Alyona Shkrum reported that Savchenko's mother in Ukraine had complained that she hadn't been given time to boil a pot of Borscht for her daughter's return home.

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