VIENNA, December 4 (Sputnik) – A drone, conducting observations for the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in southeastern Ukraine, has come under fire, the SMM has said in a statement.
"At approximately 14:00hrs an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was in an area three kilometres South-East of Pavlopil (25km North-East of Mariupol), an area of on-going fighting. It spotted a military-style truck with six people around it. Almost immediately eight to 10 rounds – assessed to have been from a ZU-23 (a 23mm anti-aircraft gun) – were fired at the SMM UAV. None hit the UAV," the statement, released Wednesday, said.
"Twenty minutes later, four kilometres to the north-west, the UAV spotted three tanks and an APC. Almost two hours after the firing incident, at a location approximately seven kilometres south-east of the location of the firing incident, the SMM UAV spotted two tanks," the statement added.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko officially authorized the OSCE to deploy drones to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire between Kiev forces and independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine in September.
The first two UAVs arrived in Ukraine on October 6. The first flight of OSCE drones was completed on October 23.
Russian OSCE envoy Andrei Kelin has pointed out that the drones, used in Ukraine, are military-purpose and need to be accompanied by military personnel. This would require introducing amendments to the relevant OSCE mandate which at the moment only presupposes the work of its civilian personnel in Ukraine.
Kiev launched its military operation in southeastern Ukraine in mid-April, after local independence supporters refused to recognize the new government, which came to power as a result of the February coup.
On September 5, the two sides reached a ceasefire agreement at a meeting attended by representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. However, both sides have since accused each other of violating the truce.