OSCE monitors are caught up in a fresh outbreak of shelling in Ukraine

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OSCE monitors are caught up in a fresh outbreak of shelling in Ukraine

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The fragile ceasefire between Ukraine government forces and Russian -backed separatists is being increasingly threatened with a rise in violations from both sides.

Fighting in particular appears to have broken out near Donetsk where monitors from Europe’s leading human rights and democracy watchdog the OSCE found themselves caught in the middle.

Chief monitor Alexander Hug was careful not to apportion blame:

“It is a very complicated and almost impossible task to determine from where incoming artillery fire comes from, where that is possible we point out in our reports the direction from which the artillery fire came.”

Two OSCE marked vehicles were damaged in the shelling but the leader of the main separatist group rebuked the mission of not providing details of the route they were taking.

“The OSCE mission came under gunfire by opposing units and ours. Even we were not aware that they would be travelling there, the OSCE mission decided to go on their own. I explained today that this is not Europe, where war goes according to a timetable – ‘let’s eat,let’s sleep and then go on with the war’. This is a real civil war, where there are no rules, no timetable. We fight differently , not like Europeans,” said the Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko of the Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Meanwhile US troops and soldiers from 14 other countries including NATO members have begun military exercises in western Ukraine.

It’s an annual exercise but it has taken on greater significance in the light of the current crisis.

The US is also moving tanks and 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states for further manoeuvres .