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NATO: Russian Soldiers Are Now in Ukraine

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Earlier today, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko accused Russian troops of entering Ukraine, and NATO issued a statement saying that they were tracking well over 1,000 Russian combat soldiers operating heavy weaponry within Ukraine's borders. The announcements follow months of fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine—reportedly supported by Russian troops nearby. Ukrainian government forces had been regaining territory held by rebels in recent weeks, only to have the separatists open up battles on new fronts in the region. Caught in the middle is the civilian population, suffering hundreds of injuries and deaths as a result of massive shelling campaigns. Russia continues to deny direct involvement, even explaining that some of its captured servicemen were in Ukraine "by mistake." Below are images from eastern Ukraine over the past few weeks, as the situation may soon escalate even further. [42 photos]

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Ukrainian soldiers detain a man suspected of spying for pro-Russian militants at a checkpoint near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, on August 16, 2014. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers detain a man suspected of spying for pro-Russian militants at a checkpoint near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, on August 16, 2014. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)
Servicemen sit atop an armored vehicle as they travel through the steppe near the village of Krasnodarovka in Russia's Rostov region on August 28, 2014. A Reuters reporter saw on Thursday a column of armored vehicles and dust-covered troops, one of them with an injured face, driving through the Russian steppe just across the border from a part of Ukraine which Kiev says is occupied by Russian troops. None of the men or vehicles had standard military identification marks, but the reporter saw an Mi-8 helicopter with a red star insignia -- consistent with Russian military markings -- land next to a nearby military first aid tent. The column was driving east away from the Ukrainian border across open countryside near the village of Krasnodarovka in the Rostov region. (Reuters/Maria Tsvetkova) #
Local residents watch as smoke rises, during shelling, in the town of Novoazovsk, eastern Ukraine, on August 27, 2014. Separatist rebels shelled a town in southeastern Ukraine on Wednesday, raising fears they are launching a counter-offensive on government-held parts of the region, one day after the leaders of Ukraine and Russia met to discuss the escalating crisis. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
Ukrainian servicemen, who are members of an artillery section, take cover after firing a cannon during a military operation against pro-Russian separatists near Pervomaisk, Luhansk region, on August 2, 2014. (Reuters/Maks Levin) #
Freight cars loaded with self-propelled howitzers sit in a railway station in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Russia's Rostov region, near the border with Ukraine, on August 23, 2014. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said last week that the alliance had observed an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
A pro-Russian rebel stands at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Donetsk near a bullet-riddled bus, in eastern Ukraine, on August 13, 2014. At least 12 militiamen fighting alongside government troops against pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine were killed in an ambush, a spokesman for their radical nationalist movement said. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
Smoke rises after shelling in the town of Novoazovsk, eastern Ukraine, on August 26, 2014. Towering columns of smoke rose Tuesday from outside a city in Ukraine's far southeast after what residents said was a heavy artillery barrage. It was the second straight day that attacks were reported in the vicinity of Novoazovsk, which is in eastern Ukraine's separatist Donetsk region but previously had seen little fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
Bloody footprints on the pavement after shelling in Donetsk, on August 14, 2014. Heavy shelling smashed into the center of Donetsk, once a bustling city of one million. Fierce clashes between government forces and rebel fighters killed 74 civilians over the previous three days in Donetsk, local authorities said. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
A local man cycles past a building damaged during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army in village of Semenivka, near eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk, on August 23, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko) #
A body lies on the pavement after shelling in the town of Makiyivka on August 19, 2014. Ukraine said Tuesday that fighting had erupted in the heart of the major rebel stronghold of Luhansk as government forces pressed on with an offensive to win back the war-torn east. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
Pro-Russian rebels talk in a field near the village of Khryaschevatoye, eastern Ukraine, on August 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
Ukrainian soldiers park their vehicles on the roadside as they wait for the start of a march into the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, on August 27, 2014. Pro-Russian rebel forces entered a key town of Novoazovsk in southeastern Ukraine on Wednesday after three days of heavy shelling, the town's mayor said, capturing new territory far from most of their battles with government troops. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A Ukrainian soldier sits atop a self-propelled gun as an army column of military vehicles prepares to roll to a frontline near Illovaisk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on August 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) #
A building of the Ukrtelecom telephone company burns in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on August 10, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
A Ukrainian serviceman walks beyond a sight for a gun near the eastern Ukrainian town of Luhansk, on August 26, 2014. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich) #
A group of Russian servicemen, detained by Ukrainian authorities, attend a news conference in Kiev on August 27, 2014. Ukraine said its forces had captured a group of Russian paratroopers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory on a "special mission" - but Moscow said they had ended up there by mistake. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko) #
Boys play a game of war between Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk on August 7, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko) #
A convoy of trucks roll on the main road to Luhansk near the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, after passing the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, on August 22, 2014. The first trucks in the Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A refugee, Anastasia, from the Ukrainian town of Sukhodolsk cries as she waits for her four-year-old son Daniel, who is coming with her friends from the Ukrainian side, as white trucks of a Russian aid convoy move to the border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, on August 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) #
Bystanders watch a fire consuming a school in downtown Donetsk on August 27, 2014, after being hit by shelling. Several civilians died when their car was completely burned after being hit by shell fragments in central Donetsk, the rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine. (Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images) #
Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion unit fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) #
A Ukrainian tank moves along a road near Eastern Ukrainian village of Novoselivka Persha on July 31, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko) #
People hide in a bomb shelter during shelling in the Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on August 26, 2014. Several shells hit the local market and nearby houses during a mortar duel between Pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian army. (AP Photo/Mstislav Chernov) #
A Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter gunship flies above a military base in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk on August 26, 2014. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich) #
An armed pro-Russian separatist looks as flames erupt from a gas pipeline after a shelling in Donetsk on August 15, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
The sky lights up shortly after a shelling in Donetsk on August 14, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
A priest blesses volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to fight against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) #
Smoke billows over a residential apartment houses following shelling in Donetsk on August 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A wounded Ukrainian woman receives treatment after shelling in Donetsk on August 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A pile of rubble stands in front of a multi-story building in a residential area in Lysychansk, Ukraine, after it was hit by a missile during fighting between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian rebels, on August 16, 2014. Lysychansk was retaken by Ukrainian army late last month but has seen sporadic clashes until the previous week. After months of rebel occupation and weeks of Ukrainian liberation, the residents of Lysychansk this shell-shocked border town say they hope simply to rebuild their former lives, but fear the return of war to their doorstep. (AP Photo/Vitnija Saldava) #
Employees unload a truck transporting coffins near graves of pro-Russian separatists at the Sixth Capital municipal graveyard on the edge of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on August 21, 2014. The sign on the cross reads "Soldier number 9". (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov) #
Pro-Russian rebels escort captured Ukrainian army prisoners in a central square in Donetsk on August 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A man throws an egg at captured Ukrainian army prisoners as they were escorted by Pro-Russian rebels in a central square in Donetsk on August 24, 2014. Pro-Russian separatist rebels force-marched dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war along the main street of the rebel-held Ukrainian town of Donetsk. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
Armed pro-Russian separatists escort a column of Ukrainian prisoners of war as they walk across central Donetsk on August 24, 2014. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov) #
A Ukrainian serviceman, at his position during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk, on August 26, 2014. (Reuters/Maks Levin) #
Pro-Russian rebels ride on a tank near the town of Makeyevka, eastern Ukraine, on August 23, 2014. Hundreds of Russian aid trucks returned home from rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Saturday, highlighting a dire need for long-term assistance to the region where homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by months of fighting. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A dead body lies in a street in the southwestern Petrovsky district of Donetsk after shelling on August 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A slipper lies near bloodstains on a street after recent shelling in the settlement of Makiivka, on the outskirts of Donetsk, on August 19, 2014. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov) #
Ukrainian government soldiers walk past a burning field after shelling of their base by pro-Russian rebel artillery near Illovaisk, Donetsk region, on August 14, 2014. Ukrainian forces stepped up efforts to dislodge the separatists from their last strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk and there was more heavy shelling overnight. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) #
People gather at a temporary tent camp set up for Ukrainian refugees outside Donetsk, located in Russia's Rostov region near the Russian-Ukrainian border, on August 18, 2014. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
A Pro-Russian rebel walks in a passage at the local market damaged by shelling in Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, on August 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Mstislav Chernov) #
Local residents cry and hug each other as they sit in a hospital basement being used as a bomb-shelter after shelling in Donetsk on August 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #

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