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Poroshenko Offers To Swap Savchenko In Prisoner Exchange With Russia

Hunger-striking Ukrainian military pilot Nadia Savchenko delivers her final statement to the court in the Russian town of Donetsk on March 9.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he is ready to secure the release of celebrated Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko through a prisoner exchange with Russia.

The Russian trial of Savchenko on allegations that she aided the 2014 killing of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine wrapped up on March 9.

She rejects the charges and has been on a hunger strike since March 3 to protest her detention.

"If you ask me if an exchange is possible I would tell you 'yes' for the first time, using my constitutional right," Poroshenko said in Ankara on March 9 after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But he added that Russia has not come up with "any satisfactory initiative" for such a swap.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said talks on a prisoner exchange could not take place "in theory or in practice" until the verdict, which is expected on March 21.

Savchenko's detention and hunger strike provoked an outpouring of protests in Ukraine and Russia on March 9 and prompted world leaders to call for her immediate release.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS