Yuriy Tandyt, an advisor to the chief of Ukraine's Security Service, or SBU, expressed doubts that it is possible to exchange Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, who has been recently sentenced by a Russian court to 22 years in prison, for Russian intelligence officers Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov, whose trial is about to end in Ukraine.
"Ask the question 'Why was [Alexandrov's] lawyer [Yuriy Hrabovsky] killed?' We are interested to see these two members of the Russian Armed Forces receive a court decision as soon as possible," Tandyt told Interfax-Ukraine when commenting on the alleged possibility of a swap of the Russian servicemen for Savchenko before they have been handed their sentence.
"The president was open to the handover of [Russian Major] Vladimir Starkov and issued a decree on parole and then we managed to get Andriy Hrechanov released in exchange for Starkov. As for these two [Yerofeyev and Alexandrov] and their further fate, we can see by now that, obviously, Russians may not need them. Why? Because if they [Russians] take them, this will constitute a proof or confirmation of the fact that Russia doesn't implement the Minsk agreements and members of the Russian special operation forces, not just Russian citizens, fight here in our territory, executing orders," Tandit said.
"We are ready for any kind of compromises. And what we have to take into account is the stance of the neighboring state: they need to save face in a bad game. All signs indicate that for now, they cannot gain understanding themselves of how to legalize these two citizens of theirs," Tandit added.
Read also: Alexandrov, Yerofeyev trial to continue despite the killing of lawyer Hrabovsky - Matios
It was reported earlier that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on March 22 that he is ready to hand over to Russia, in exchange for Savchenko, the two Russian servicemen detained in Ukrainian territory and to do so immediately after the Russians are handed their sentence by the court in Kyiv. Poroshenko stressed that such an approach is consistent with Clause 6 of the Minsk Agreements.
Yerofeyev and Alexandrov were detained near the town of Schastia, in Luhansk region, on May 16, 2015. Kyiv claimed they were trying to seize a strategic bridge.
On May 19, 2015 Ukrainian detectives told the Russians, whom they deemed to be servicemen from the Russian Armed Forces, that they were suspected of terrorism.
The trial of the two Russians started in Kyiv's Holosiyivsky District Court on November 10, 2015.