Freed Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko arrived Wednesday in Kiev to a hero's welcome, military awards and speeches alongside President Petro Poroshenko after being swapped for two alleged Russian intelligence officers who were returned to Moscow. Savchenko was met at Kiev's Boryspil airport by her mother and sister, Ukrainian politicians and hundreds of journalists before driving into the city to make a statement alongside Poroshenko. "I am always ready to lay down my life on the battlefield for Ukraine," Savchenko said in an impromptu speech shortly after touching down in Kiev, the Unian news agency reported. "In Ukraine we will live as people are supposed to live. Honestly, I don't know how to do this.
A Ukrainian pilot has been found guilty in Russia of charges relating to the deaths of two Russian journalists. Nadiya Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in jail after being convicted of directing artillery fire which killed them in eastern Ukraine in June 2014. She burst into a folk-style protest song in the courtroom as she was finally pronounced guilty after the judge's two-day reading of the verdict. She denied all the charges and her case has become internationally notorious. Ukraine would never recognise the "so-called" verdict, President Petro Poroshenko said, describing the trial as "infamous".
Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko was found guilty of murder by a Russian court Tuesday and sentenced to 22 years behind bars. Her six-month trial has generated harsh international criticism of Moscow and made Savchenko a symbol of resistance against Russia and a hero for many Ukrainians. Savchenko, who denies all the charges, interrupted the marathon legal proceedings several times by loudly singing a Ukrainian song and her supporters gave a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem as the judge finished speaking. A spokesman for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who attended the sentencing in Russia was forcibly removed from the court after attempting to unfurl a Ukrainian flag. The case has generated outrage in Ukraine and further strained relations between Kiev and Moscow, which hit rock bottom in 2014 as Russia annexed the Black Sea region of Crimea and backed a separatist rebellion in the east of the country.
A Ukrainian pilot who was sentenced to jail in connection with the deaths of two Russian journalists and became a symbol of her nation's resistance to Moscow's aggression was freed Wednesday as part of a swap for two Russian servicemen. Nadiya Savchenko, Ukraine's first female combat pilot, spent almost two years behind bars in Russia after being captured by pro-Russian separatist militants in June 2014 amid a bloody conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in southeastern Ukraine. A Russian court convicted her in March of complicity in the death of the two journalists by directing the artillery fire that killed them and sentenced her to 22 years in jail. She denied the charges and insisted she was kidnapped and forcibly taken to Russia shortly before the journalists were killed. "I am free," Savchenko said in televised remarks while standing next to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the Boryspil airport near the capital, Kiev, minutes after a presidential plane flew her from Russia.
Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday accused Ukrainian's government of dragging its feet on implementing last year's cease-fire agreement as Moscow sought to press its point in a new round of high-level diplomacy. Fighting in Ukraine's industrial heartland, which has close ties to Russia, has killed more than 9,100 people and left large swaths of land under rebel control. Germany, France and Russia mediated talks between representatives of the Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatists at talks in Minsk, Belarus, which resulted in a broad cease-fire agreement. That has largely held, but none of the political elements, including calling a local election, has been implemented. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was hosting German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow, told reporters that Kiev's inaction is the main stumbling block to a peace settlement in the east.