The German Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Tuesday that a 14-person team from the German military had arrived in Ukraine with a French team to look at using unarmed drones in the east of the country. The 14-person team includes logistical, technical and medical staff.
The Luna reconnaissance drones, which can fly at an altitude of up to 5,000 metres for six hours, would observe troop movements to make sure a shaky ceasefire agreed at the start of September by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Russia holds.
The observer mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was agreed following the Nato summit in Wales two weeks ago.
“The focus is on providing airborne observation resources,” the German military said in a statement.
The German fact-finders will be in an uncontested area near the rebel-held city of Luhansk around 30 kilometres from the Russian border for three to five days to decide if using drones is possible.
The team will be in OSCE uniform and unarmed. But the mission has obvious risks. Pro-Russian rebels have taken OSCE observers hostage in the past.
“Based on the results of the reconnaissance mission it will then be considered whether and in what form Germany and France could participate in a support mission for the OSCE, subject to political support,” the military said.
According to the statement, Moscow agreed to the OSCE observer mission during ceasefire talks on September 5th in the Belarus capital of Minsk.
Drones from Austria are also expected to be used in any OSCE mission.
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