France, Germany offer drones to monitor Ukraine ceasefire

PARIS (Reuters) - France and Germany have offered to deploy drones as part of efforts by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) to beef up monitoring of the ceasefire in Ukraine, France's foreign ministry said on Monday.

OSCE spokesman Shiv Sharma said earlier in September the group would initially deploy two drones at the end of the month or the beginning of October, and that more would follow later.

"As requested by the OSCE in Europe, France and Germany have proposed to provide drones aimed at monitoring the ceasefire's implementation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said in a daily news briefing.

Despite the Sept. 5 ceasefire, fighting has flared frequently around Donetsk international airport, in eastern Ukraine, which is held by government forces.

Seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed when a separatist shell hit their armoured personnel carrier near the airport, a military spokesman said on Monday.

Nadal said the drone offer was being studied by the OSCE. He gave no further details.

The drones are part of plans to expand the OSCE's mission in Ukraine, where five months of fighting have led to Russia's biggest clash with the West since the end of the Cold War.

(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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