A vegetable vendor sits in a square near a railway station as smoke rises after recent shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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Ukraine called Friday for full membership of NATO, its strongest plea yet for Western military help, after accusing Russia of sending in the armored columns that have driven back its forces on behalf of pro-Moscow rebels.The past 72 hours have seen pro-Russian rebels suddenly open a new front and push Ukrainian troops out of a key town in strategic coastal territory along the Sea of Azov.NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he respected Ukraine's right to seek alliances.The West has made clear it is not prepared to fight to protect Ukraine but is instead relying on economic sanctions, first imposed after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March, and tightened several times since.NATO has issued satellite photos of what it says is artillery fielded by more than 1,000 Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.Members of an official Russian human rights body say as many as 100 Russian soldiers died in a single battle in Ukraine in August.
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