A woman pushes her bicycle as she walks past a checkpoint of the Ukrainian army, near the eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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Russia has massed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's border and could use the pretext of a humanitarian mission to invade, NATO said Wednesday, its starkest warning yet that Moscow could soon mount a ground assault against its neighbor.With fighting escalating and rebels losing ground in the weeks since a Malaysian airliner was shot down over separatist-held territory, Russia has announced military exercises this week in the border region.Kiev said 18 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed and 54 injured in 25 separate clashes over the past day in eastern Ukraine. Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said troops had been shelled from inside Russian territory and frontier guards had come under a four-hour mortar and artillery attack.Western countries say it was shot down by rebels with an advanced anti-aircraft missile supplied by Russia.
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