The defence said they would ask the court to move the trial to Moscow and away from a town close to a conflict zone.

“And one of the accusations against her is ‘illegal crossing of the Russian border.'”.

There was a heavy police presence for the trial, which started with a closed preliminary hearing. While the protocol implemented an immediate ceasefire, fighting has persisted between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainians.

The United States imposed further Russia and Ukraine-related sanctions on Thursday, adding associates of a billionaire Russian gas trader, Crimean port operators and former Ukrainian officials to its list of those it is penalizing in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Savchenko has denied the charges and refused food for more than 80 days to protest at her detention.

“I assume this was done to make access to the trial as hard as possible for the press and for worldwide diplomats”, Ilya Nivokov, one of her lawyers, told RFE/RL.

MOSCOW, July 31 New U.S. sanctions against Russia show that Washington wants to aggravate tensions with Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Ukraine said breaches of a cease-fire to stem the war in its east reached the most since the pact was signed in February.

To save face, political scientist Piontkovsky said Russian authorities likely would wait until Savchenko has been found guilty and sentenced.

“Three Russians were relaxing at an artificial lake situated on the Russian territory near village Novorussky in the Millerovo district of the Rostov Region and decided to take pictures at the background of the Ukrainian checkpoint Krasna Talivka”, the FSB border department said. Since her arrest, Savchenko has been elected as a deputy in Ukraine’s Parliament and is a delegate to the Council of Europe, giving her diplomatic immunity.

Speaking in the western city of Lviv on yesterday, President Petro Poroshenko repeated that all Russian forces had to be withdrawn from Ukraine.

But Moscow quickly shot down those hopes, declaring hers is a criminal case and that she was not detained illegally. The resolution would have created an worldwide tribunal to try suspects in the Malaysian airliner downing that killed 298 passengers in eastern Ukraine previous year.