(Reuters) – International monitors deployed along the Russian border in eastern Ukraine say their drones were shot at and jammed days before new columns of unmarked soldiers and weapons, said by the West to be Russian, were seen in the rebel-held territory this week.
The reports by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is seen as a neutral party in the conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people, come as Kiev and Moscow trade accusations of violating a fragile ceasefire.
But Western officials say the rebels are behind the incidents, and Kiev says the rebels have intentionally hampered OSCE monitoring efforts to cover up the arrival of new Russian reinforcements of soldiers and weapons in eastern Ukraine, boosting fears of a return to hostilities.
“The fact that the separatists are jamming the (drones) or shooting at them to some people is evidence that they have something to hide,” said U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer.
Russia denies sending weapons and soldiers to eastern Ukraine and says the reports are part of an information war against the Kremlin.
In its reports, the OSCE did not say who carried out the jamming. Ukraine denied involvement while a rebel commander, Eduard Basurin, said it was unclear who had shot at the drones.