15:47 GMT29 January 2020
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    Special Monitoring Mission deployed in Ukraine by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reports that Ukrainian soldiers have fired at the SMM observers.

    MOSCOW, November 20 (Sputnik) – Ukrainian soldiers have fired at observers from the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) deployed in Ukraine by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

    According to an SMM report released Wednesday, military personnel travelling in a "flat-bed cargo truck" with "white vertical lines on the tail-gate…and on the passenger door" shot in the direction of an OSCE convoy near government-controlled Mariinka, located about 15 kilometres, or 9 miles, east of Donetsk.

    "One of the soldiers stood up and fired two shots in the direction of the OSCE convoy. The bullets struck about 2m from the second OSCE vehicle. The SMM staff travelling in this vehicle heard sharp sounds originating from road or bullet fragments impacting on their car. Due to security concerns, the SMM left the area immediately," the report said.

    Another report released by the SMM Wednesday, said that Ukrainian forces did not allow OSCE monitors to pass through a bridge checkpoint in Debaltseve on November 18.

    "Instead, the SMM was told to take a long roundabout route to bypass the bridge. On its way back from Perevalsk, the SMM approached the bridge and it stopped at another CP, located directly opposite to the initial one, on the other side of the bridge. As the SMM stopped in expectation of further command, a warning shot was fired by the CP staff in the direction of the OSCE car," the report said.

    The SMM was deployed in Ukraine in March, following a request by the Kiev government and a consensus decision by all 57 OSCE participating states. The mission is meant to contribute to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security in the conflict-torn Ukraine.

    The conflict in Ukraine escalated in mid-April, when Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who refused to recognize the new government which came to power as a result of a February coup.

    The two sides reached a ceasefire agreement in September, but have since accused each other of violating the truce.

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