One member of European security watchdog OSCE’s monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine was killed and two others were injured after their vehicle drove over a mine near Luhansk, according to Reuters.
An American man was killed and a German woman was injured on Sunday morning, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry said. Austria holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Germany’s foreign ministry said two were injured, but gave no immediate details. The OSCE confirmed on Twitter that a patrol with six members and two armoured vehicles had been in a “serious incident” but gave no further information.
Three years after Moscow annexed the Crimean region, tensions between Ukraine and separatists in the Russian-held eastern part of the country remain high and a 2015 ceasefire agreement is violated regularly.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was appalled by the news and her government expected the parties to the conflict to investigate and determine who was responsible.
“The conflict parties must also finally implement the long-agreed ceasefire,” Merkel said in a statement. “And there, the Russia-supported separatists, who are illegally and violently occupying parts of Ukrainian territory bear a particular responsibility.”
The Russian foreign ministry said the circumstances pointed to likely provocation aimed at undermining the peace process. It called for an impartial investigation and urged the parties to the conflict to intensify direct talks.
“We’re deeply outraged by this cynical action, which led to the loss of human life and was directed against international observers who work for the sake of peace,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The Ukrainian military said the incident took place at 10:17 local time (0717 GMT) near the small village of Pryshyb, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
The unarmed, civilian OSCE mission with more than 700 international observers was deployed in 2014. The role of the monitors includes verifying the withdrawal of heavy weapons as agreed under the 2015 ceasefire agreement.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was in everyone’s interest to allow the OSCE observers to “carry out their important, indispensable, and at once difficult and dangerous work.
Sebastian Kurz on Twitter both called for an investigation of the incident. Kurz said he had spoken to the mission’s ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan.
“Need thorough investigation; those responsible will be held accountable,” Kurz said on Twitter.
A spokesman for the OSCE said further information would be released as it became available.
The 57 member states of the OSCE, which include Ukraine, Russia and the United States, in March extended its monitoring in Ukraine by a year.
Gabriel said the OSCE patrols had clearly prevented a more serious military escalation in recent years.
One Ukrainian soldier has been killed in action near the town of Avdiyivka in Donbas, according to the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) headquarters, Joinfo.com reports with reference to UNIAN.
“According to preliminary information, a soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was killed in shelling of a stronghold of a mechanized brigade’s unit whose personnel perform combat missions near Avdiyivka,” the ATO HQ said on Facebook on Sunday morning.
Russia’s hybrid military forces used 120mm mortars, large caliber machine guns and small arms in that sector, the ATO HQ said. According to previous reports, the Ukrainian army’s casualties on Saturday, April 22, included one killed in action and three wounded in action. Ukrainian troops were attacked 46 times on that day.