Two unarmed drones meant to help international observers monitor Ukraine’s shaky truce have arrived in the country, officials said Monday, as a push continued to beef up the mission.
The monthlong cease-fire between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia separatists has helped stem some of the violence, but daily fighting has continued, particularly around the rebel-held city of Donetsk.
Seven people were killed and 20 wounded over the weekend, city officials said.
The Ukrainian military had three killed and nine wounded, according to a security spokesman.
Talks are under way to enlarge the monitoring mission run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. OSCE chief Didier Burkhalter and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on Monday and agreed its work should be expanded, according to a statement from the Kremlin.
Ukraine’s security spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said that the two drones, which are from Austria, are going through customs procedures and will be “deployed after customs clearance.”
France and Germany have said they are considering sending drones to ensure that the cease-fire agreement holds.
The OSCE mediated the Sept. 5 truce deal reached between Kiev and the rebels, which called for both sides to stop fighting and pull back their heavy weapons.
The Minsk agreement on Sept. 19 called for a buffer zone between the separatists and Ukraine’s military, with both sides pulling back heavy artillery and missile launchers.
Russian, Ukrainian and OSCE officials on Saturday started laying out the zone around Mariupol, among other territories where the cease-fire was largely holding, Col. Lysenko said.
Last week, a Swiss Red Cross employee was killed in Donetsk, where rebels have besieged the government-held airport for weeks.
U.S. Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko today. According to the earlier statement from the White House, Nuland planned to discuss the status of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and U.S. support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.