A Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) positioned in Ukraine by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported late on Wednesday that Ukrainian soldiers had fired at an international team of observers while they were travelling east from Kurakhovo, about 19 miles west of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
According to the SMM report, Ukrainian soldiers travelling in a flat-bed cargo truck carrying a large, green wooden box, with two uniformed personnel on board, shot in the direction of the OSCE convoy near the area of Mariinka, about nine 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 OSCE said, in the report.
The latest report follows another one released by OSCE on Wednesday, stating that Ukrainian forces did not allow OSCE monitors to cross a bridge checkpoint on the northeastern outskirts of Debaltseve on Tuesday.
“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 conflict in eastern Ukraine intensified in April, after Kiev launched a military operation against pro-Russian rebels in the country's southeast. When the crisis escalated, the Ukrainian government requested the services of the SMM, which currently monitors the implementation of the ceasefire agreements in the country.
On Tuesday, the U.K. Defense Ministry announced that it will send 10 armored vehicles to Ukraine to help OSCE conduct its mission safely.
Kiev and the West have accused Russia of interfering in the region by supporting and arming separatist forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, Moscow has consistently denied helping the rebels in this manner.
According to a new U.N. statement released Thursday, at least 4,317 people have been killed and 9,921 have been injured in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between mid-April and Nov. 18. The U.N. report also stated that fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed an average of 13 people each day since the Minsk Memorandum ceasefire was signed on Sept. 5, Reuters reported.