Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks during the expanded board of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2015.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks during the expanded board of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2015.

KYIV, UKRAINE - President Petro Poroshenko has pardoned a Russian citizen arrested in eastern Ukraine and exchanged him for a Ukrainian serviceman held by Russian-backed separatists.
 
Poroshenko announced the exchange on his official website, which showed a photograph of him meeting early Tuesday with the freed Ukrainian, Andrei Grechanov.
 
The president said he pardoned Vladimir Starkov, a Russian who was arrested in July while driving a truck loaded with ammunition in eastern Ukraine and later sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Ukrainian security services released a video in which Starkov acknowledged being a Russian military officer.
 
Russia has denied sending troops and weapons to eastern Ukraine, where separatists have been fighting government troops since April 2014 in a conflict that has killed more than 8,000 people.
 
A cease-fire has largely held since September.