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Fighting in east kills 18 Ukrainian soldiers in 24 hours: military


A Ukrainian army tank sits in position in a sunflowers field near the village of Maryinka, a suburb of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, on August 5, 2014. Photo - Andrey Krasnoschekov

Kiev: Fierce clashes between government forces and pro-Russian rebels have left 18 soldiers dead over the past 24 hours, a military spokesman said Wednesday.

"Over the past 24 hours 18 servicemen have been killed and 54 have been injured," Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Kiev's National Security and Defence Council, told journalists.

Meanwhile, NATO has accused Russia of amassing around 20,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border. "They could use the excuse of an humanitarian or peacekeeping mission to send them into Ukraine," NATO said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We're not going to guess what's on Russia's mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground - and that is of great concern. Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement.

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