Ukraine seeks NATO membership in response to Russia joining war

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Ukraine seeks NATO membership in response to Russia joining war
New satellite images showing #Russia’s forces engaged in military ops inside #Ukraine http://t.co/f1ty0S3Qwy @NATO http://t.co/AFKplcfopt
A woman holds a Ukrainian flag during a rally in the center of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the Donetsk region, on August 28, 2014. A few thousand people called for a united Ukraine and asked for Russia to withdraw its military forces from the country. Ukraine and the West said on August 28 that Russian troops were actively involved in the fighting tearing apart the east of the country, raising fears of a direct military confrontation between Kiev and its former Soviet master. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
A child holds a Ukrainian flag during a rally in the center of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the Donetsk region, on August 28, 2014. A few thousand people called for a united Ukraine and asked for Russia to withdraw its military forces from the country. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold placards (RtoL) reading 'Putin get out!', 'Putin go home, there is no vodka!' and 'Death for enemies!', during a rally in the center of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the Donetsk region, on August 28, 2014. A few thousand people called for a united Ukraine and asked for Russia to withdraw its military forces from the country. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold Ukrainian flags and anti-Putin placards during a rally in the center of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the Donetsk region, on August 28, 2014. A few thousand people called for a united Ukraine and asked for Russia to withdraw its military forces from the country. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Olga Garina, the mother of Russian paratrooper Egor Pochtoev captured in Ukraine, speaks with her son on August 28, 2014, in Kostroma, some 350 km outside Moscow. Wives and mothers of Russian soldiers were set to demonstrate on August 28 after reports of secret military funerals ratcheted up pressure on Moscow to come clean about its role in the Ukraine conflict. The women said paratroopers from a base in Kostroma, north of Moscow, were sent on military drills and then went incommunicado, only for some of their husbands and sons to return in pine boxes. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ludmila Hohlova, Chairman of the Board of Soldiers' Mothers gestures on August 28, 2014 near a check point of the Russian paratroopers' base in Kostroma, some 350 km outside Moscow. Wives and mothers of Russian soldiers were set to demonstrate on August 28 after reports of secret military funerals ratcheted up pressure on Moscow to come clean about its role in the Ukraine conflict. The women said paratroopers from a base in Kostroma, north of Moscow, were sent on military drills and then went incommunicado, only for some of their husbands and sons to return in pine boxes. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Children, refugees from eastern Ukraine speak with a policeman in a refugee camp near the Russian city of Donets'k, Rostov region, about 15 kilometres from the Russian-Ukrainian border on August 28, 2014. Some 285,000 people have already fled their homes due to the conflict in east Ukraine, it is estimated, with many leaving for other parts of the country, but close to 168,000 seeking sanctuary in Russia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREY KRONBERG (Photo credit should read ANDREY KRONBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
A girl holds a placard 'Enough surrender the Ukraine !' during the rally in front of Ukrainian Defence Ministery in Kiev on August 28, 2014. Protesters demand help for the volunteer battalions of Donbass, Mirotvorets, Kherson and Dnipro-1 surrounded by pro-Russian militants for the fifth day in the small city of Izvaryne, suburb of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers guard at a gateway during the rally in front of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry in Kiev on August 28, 2014. Protesters demand help for the volunteer battalions of Donbass, Mirotvorets, Kherson and Dnipro-1 surrounded by pro-Russian militants for the fifth day in the small city of Izvaryne, suburb of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A girl holds a placard 'Enough surrender the Ukraine !' during the rally in front of Ukrainian Defence Ministery in Kiev on August 28, 2014. Protesters demand help for the volunteer battalions of Donbass, Mirotvorets, Kherson and Dnipro-1 surrounded by pro-Russian militants for the fifth day in the small city of Izvaryne, suburb of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian protesters hold placards reading 'Aggressors come to your house' and 'Save our women' during a demonstration outside the Ukrainian defence ministry in Kiev on August 28, 2014. Protesters gathered to demand help for the volunteer battalions of Donbass, Mirotvorets, Kherson and Dnipro-1 surrounded by pro-Russian militants for the fifth day in the small city of Izvaryne, suburb of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Mothers and wives of Russia paratroopers captured in Ukraine stand near a check point of their base in Kostroma some 350 km outside Moscow on August 28, 2014. Wives and mothers of Russian soldiers were set to demonstrate Thursday after reports of secret military funerals ratcheted up pressure on Moscow to come clean about its role in the Ukraine conflict. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People shout slogans during a rally in front of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office in Kiev on August 27, 2014. Protesters demand help for the volunteer battalions of Donbass, Mirotvorets, Kherson and Dnipro-1 surrounded by pro-Russian militants for the fifth day in the small city of Izvaryne, suburb of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (C) gestures next to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko as they meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (C) gestures next to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko as they meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (C) gestures next to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko as they meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (C) gestures next to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko as they meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (C) gestures next to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko as they meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L), Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R), Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (2ndR), and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meet in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26, 2014. Putin and Poroshenko are meeting in Minsk for key talks, after the US warned of a 'significant escalation' in the crisis over Ukraine and Kiev announced the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 14: Residents of Donetsk arrive at a shelter in the Topaz district after fleeing the nothern suburbs near the international airport as the ongoing artillery battle between the Ukrainian forces and pro Russian rebels intensifies on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine. A Russian aid convoy is on its way towards the Ukranian border, heading to a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels instead of a government controlled post which the Ukrainian government has demanded it head to, according to the latest reports. The government has threatened to block the convoy if the cargo could not be inspected and is sending its own cargo of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 14: Residents of Donetsk arrive at a shelter in the Topaz district after fleeing the nothern suburbs near the international airport as the ongoing artillery battle between the Ukrainian forces and pro Russian rebels intensifies on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine. A Russian aid convoy is on its way towards the Ukranian border, heading to a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels instead of a government controlled post which the Ukrainian government has demanded it head to, according to the latest reports. The government has threatened to block the convoy if the cargo could not be inspected and is sending its own cargo of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 14: Residents of Donetsk arrive at a shelter after fleeing the nothern suburbs near the international airport as the ongoing artillery battle between the Ukrainian forces and pro Russian rebels intensifies on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine. A Russian aid convoy is on its way towards the Ukranian border, heading to a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels instead of a government controlled post which the Ukrainian government has demanded it head to, according to the latest reports. The government has threatened to block the convoy if the cargo could not be inspected and is sending its own cargo of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 14: People look concerned as they pass by a house on fire in a residential area of Donetsk, named Voroshyloskyi after it was hit by artillery shelling on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine. A Russian aid convoy is on its way towards the Ukranian border, heading to a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels instead of a government controlled post which the Ukrainian government has demanded it head to, according to the latest reports. The government has threatened to block the convoy if the cargo could not be inspected and is sending its own cargo of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 14: Firemen try to put out a fire in a residential area of Donetsk, named Voroshyloskyi after it was hit by artillery shelling on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine. A Russian aid convoy is on its way towards the Ukranian border, heading to a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels instead of a government controlled post which the Ukrainian government has demanded it head to, according to the latest reports. The government has threatened to block the convoy if the cargo could not be inspected and is sending its own cargo of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 14: People look at the damage in the street after the centre of the city was hit by artillery shelling on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine. A Russian aid convoy is on its way towards the Ukranian border, heading to a crossing controlled by pro-Russian rebels instead of a government controlled post which the Ukrainian government has demanded it head to, according to the latest reports. The government has threatened to block the convoy if the cargo could not be inspected and is sending its own cargo of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Trucks drivers from a Russian humanitarian convoy gather after parking on a field outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, some 30kms from the Russian-Ukrainian border, Russia, on August 14, 2014. A massive Russian 'humanitarian' convoy closed in on Ukraine's border today despite doubts over whether the trucks would be allowed across, and as deadly fighting rocked rebel-held strongholds. The nearly 300 vehicles headed towards southeastern Ukraine, even as intense shelling there in the insurgent bastions of Donetsk and Lugansk -- where the trucks appear headed -- sharply increased the death toll from fighting. AFP PHOTO / ANDREY KRONBERG (Photo credit should read ANDREY KRONBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 12: Refugees occupy a building of the National University of Donetsk as shelter from conflict as a pro Russian rebel stands by August 12, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. An estimated of 1200 refugees from the Donestk region fled their home during fights between pro Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces and found shelter in buildings in the university. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 12: Refugees occupy a building of the National University of Donetsk as shelter from conflict August 12, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. An estimated of 1200 refugees from the Donestk region fled their home during fights between pro Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces and found shelter in buildings in the university. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 12: Children refugee occupys a building of the National University of Donetsk as shelter from conflict August 12, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. An estimated of 1200 refugees from the Donestk region fled their home during fights between pro Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces and found shelter in buildings in the university. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 12: Children refugees occupy a building of the National University of Donetsk as shelter from conflict August 12, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. An estimated of 1200 refugees from the Donestk region fled their home during fights between pro Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces and found shelter in buildings in the university. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 12: People deliver aid for refugees occupying a building of the National University of Donetsk as shelter from conflict August 12, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. An estimated of 1200 refugees from the Donestk region fled their home during fights between pro Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces and found shelter in buildings in the university. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Supporter and opponent of Moscow Patriaechy argue during the vote on the new Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in front of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra cathedrals in Kiev on August 13, 2014. Volodymyr, Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, died on July 5, 2014. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has addressed to the Council over the election of a new head and said that the election of the head takes place at 'the most difficult period of modern history of Ukraine - blood is being spilt and we are suffering from foreign aggression'. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 11: Inmates move their belongings after artillery shells hit a high security prison on August 11, 2104 in Donetsk, Ukraine . It has been reported that one prisoner has been killed and over one hundred prisoners have escaped as the high-security prison was hit by shelling. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 11: A guard inspects the damaged roof after artillery shells hit a high security prison on August 11, 2104 in Donetsk, Ukraine . It has been reported that one prisoner has been killed and over one hundred prisoners have escaped as the high-security prison was hit by shelling. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 11: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) The dead body of a detainee lays in a vehicle after artillery shells hit a high security prison on August 11, 2104 in Donetsk, Ukraine . It has been reported that one prisoner has been killed and over one hundred prisoners have escaped as the high-security prison was hit by shelling. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 11: The dead body of a detainee lays in a vehicle after artillery shells hit a high security prison on August 11, 2104 in Donetsk, Ukraine . It has been reported that one prisoner has been killed and over one hundred prisoners have escaped as the high-security prison was hit by shelling. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 11: A guard looks over damage in the prison grounds after artillery shells hit a high security prison on August 11, 2104 in Donetsk, Ukraine . It has been reported that one prisoner has been killed and over one hundred prisoners have escaped as the high-security prison was hit by shelling. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 11: An inmate looks out from behind bars after artillery shells hit a high security prison on August 11, 2104 in Donetsk, Ukraine . It has been reported that one prisoner has been killed and over one hundred prisoners have escaped as the high-security prison was hit by shelling. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. Ukrainians try to extinguish the burning barricades set fire by activists during the clashes. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Mayor of Kiev Vitalii Klitschko helps Kiev residents as they remove the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Mayor of Kiev Vitalii Klitschko helps Kiev residents as they remove the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. Ukrainians try to extinguish the burning barricades set fire by activists during the clashes. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Mayor of Kiev Vitalii Klitschko helps Kiev residents as they remove the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Mayor of Kiev Vitalii Klitschko helps Kiev residents as they remove the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Mayor of Kiev Vitalii Klitschko helps Kiev residents as they remove the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 8: Ukrainian Soldiers unload non-lethal military equipments from the plane, shortly after CC-130J Hercules from Canadian Forces Base Trenton arrived to Kiev, Ukraine on August 8, 2014. Non-lethal military equipment, including helmets, ballistic eyewear, first aid kits, tents and sleeping bags, help the country to protect its eastern border. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People extinguish a fire after Maidan self-defence burned a barricade during clashes with residents of Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. A few hundred Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the centre of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activists transformed the iconic place into a hotbed of crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
People extinguish a fire after Maidan self-defence burned a barricade during clashes with residents of Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. A few hundred Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the centre of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activists transformed the iconic place into a hotbed of crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A fireman extinguishes a fire after Maidan self-defence burned a barricade during clashes with residents of Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. A few hundred Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the centre of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activists transformed the iconic place into a hotbed of crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Maidan self-defence activist runs at a barricade burned by them during clashes with residents of Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. A few hundred Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the centre of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activists transformed the iconic place into a hotbed of crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man runs in front of a barricade burned by Maidan self-defence activists as they clash with residents of Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. Some few hundreds of Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the centre of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activists transformed the iconic place into a hotbed of crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Maidan self-defence activist holds a stone by a barricade burned by them during clashes with residents of Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. A few hundred Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the centre of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activists transformed the iconic place into a hotbed of crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 10: Firefighters extinguish fire in the telecommunication building after Rebel held east city Donetsk shelled as clashes continue between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists on August 10, 2014. (Photo by Sertac Bulur/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman sits inside a makeshift bomb shelter in Donetsk, on August 10, 2014. Artillery pounded the surrounded main rebel bastion of Donetsk in east Ukraine Sunday as the West warned Russia that any attempt to send 'humanitarian' troops into the conflict-torn region would be deemed 'unacceptable.' Shelling meanwhile continued throughout the night and into Sunday in Donetsk, a one-million strong city that rebels now say has been surrounded by Ukrainian forces. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Mayor of Kiev Vitalii Klitschko helps Kiev residents as they remove the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 9: Kiev residents clash with the self defense activists as removing the tents and barricades, set by activists, from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in Kiev, Ukraine on August 9, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A serviceman sits on a tank gun barrel while a helicopter flies on the position of the Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region on August 9, 2014. Fighting with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has left 13 troops dead in the last 24 hours, Ukraine's military said Saturday. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Kiev residents clean up Maidan self-defence activists camp and the barricades in Kiev on August 9, 2014 as thousands of the residents of Ukrainian capital came to remove barricades and tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. Some few hundreds of Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the center of the city that upsets the vast majority of the local residents as the self-defence activist transformed the iconic place into a hotbed crime, drunkenness and instability. The Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them Alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of Kiev clash with 'Maidan' activists on August 9, 2014 as hundreds of local volunteers, backed up by municipal workers with bulldozers, came to remove barricades and tents from the protest camp on Kiev's iconic Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free the nearby Khreshchatyk street for traffic. Most of the remaining tents and barricades at the camp from the protest movement that toppled former president Viktor Yanukovych in February were demolished on August 9, an occupation that upsets a vast majority of locals as the iconic camp transformed into a hotbed crime, drunkenness and instability. Kievites assert that the present inhabitants of the current Maidan discredited the very concept of Maidan and call them alco-Maidan. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man searches for shrapnel after shelling in Donetsk on August 9, 2014. The centre of the one-million strong city appears to have become a new battleground in the fighting, coming under sustained shelling for the first time on August 7, with mortar fire hitting a hospital and residences near a key rebel base. Ukraine said on August 8 it warded off a Russian attempt to send troops across the border under the guise of a humanitarian mission, fuelling Western fears that Moscow is planning to invade. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 8, 2014 shows a hole in an appartment building following shelling in Donetsk. The centre of the one-million strong city appears to have become a new battleground in the fighting, coming under sustained shelling for the first time on Thursday, with mortar fire hitting a hospital and residences near a key rebel base. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a house destroyed by combat between the Ukrainian armed forces and pro-Russian militants, in the village of Senyonovka, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on August 7, 2014. Fighting raged on in Ukraine's industrial east, where local authorities have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia to 'step back from the brink' during a visit to Kiev on Thursday and vowed support for Ukraine as fears mounted that Moscow was preparing to send troops into the conflict-torn east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 07: People walk past a burnt barricade set fire by activists during a clash with Ukrainian special forces police battalion in Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, to protest the local authorities' attempt to clean up the square from the protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 7, 2014. (Photo by Artem Slipachuk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 07: Activists clash with a Ukrainian special forces police battalion in Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, during a protest against the local authorities' attempt to clean up the square from the protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 7, 2014. (Photo by Artem Slipachuk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives react at a coffin with the body of Kyril Andrienko, commander of special team of Ukrainian Forces, who died during the anti-terrorists operation (ATO) in the east of Ukraine during the funeral ceremony in Lviv on August 7, 2014. Shelling rocked the area around a key rebel base in the centre of the insurgent bastion of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, city authorities said. AFP PHOTO/ YURKO DYACHYSHYN (Photo credit should read YURKO DYACHYSHYN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man throws a Molotov cocktail as Maidan self-defence activists clash with fighters of Kiev-1 volunteer battalion on Independence Square in Kiev on August 7, 2014. Kiev's municipal services protected with the servicemen tried to remove tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. Some few hundreds of Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the center of the Ukrainian capital that upsets the vast majority of the local residents. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man throws a Molotov cocktail as Maidan self-defence activists clash with fighters of Kiev-1 volunteer battalion on Independence Square in Kiev on August 7, 2014. Kiev's municipal services protected with the servicemen tried to remove tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. Some few hundreds of Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the center of the Ukrainian capital that upsets the vast majority of the local residents. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
An Orthodox priest holds a stone as Maidan self-defence activists clash with fighters of Kiev-1 volunteer battalion on Independence Square in Kiev on August 7, 2014. Kiev's municipal services protected with the servicemen tried to remove tents from the city's central Independence Square, also known as Maidan, and free Khreshchatyk Street for the traffic. Some few hundreds of Maidan activists still live in the tent camp set in the center of the Ukrainian capital that upsets the vast majority of the local residents. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 7: A man burns wood during a clash with Ukrainian special forces police battalion in Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, to protest the local authorities' attempt to clean up the square from the protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 7, 2014. (Photo by Sergey Starastenko/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images)
A woman cleans the debris of broken windows in her appartement in the Kievski neighbourhood in northern Donetsk on August 28, 2014, where one person was killed after a shell that hit the building. The United States on August 28 accused Russia of being 'directly involved' in fighting in war-torn east Ukraine, after rebels appeared to seize swathes of territory from retreating government forces. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - Ukraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine's eastern provinces.

Formal Ukrainian membership in the Western military alliance, which would come with the full protection of a mutual defense pact with the U.S. superpower, remains an unlikely prospect, at least in the near future.

But by announcing that it is seeking it, Kiev is taking its most decisive step yet to pursue Western military protection from what it now describes as an invasion by its neighbor.

NATO's secretary general said he respected Ukraine's right to seek membership, and accused Russia of blatantly and illegally intervening in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow denies its forces are fighting to support pro-Russian rebels who have declared independence in eastern Ukraine, but the rebels have all but confirmed it, saying thousands of Russian troops have fought on their behalf while "on leave".

The arrival of what Western governments say are armoured columns of Russian troops on a new front in recent days has tipped the balance towards the rebels after weeks in which Ukrainian forces appeared to be gaining the upper hand.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told a government meeting on Friday the cabinet would "bring before parliament a law to scrap the non-aligned status of the Ukrainian state and establish a course towards membership of NATO."

Were NATO to contemplate extending its mutual defense pact to Ukraine, it would be the biggest change in the security architecture of Europe since the 1990s.

After the Cold War, NATO defied Russian objections and expanded to grant its security guarantees to former Communist countries like Poland, Hungary and Romania. But it largely stopped at the border of the former Soviet Union, admitting only the three tiny Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

NATO denied Ukraine a fast track towards membership in 2008 when a previous pro-European government in Kiev tried to pursue closer ties with the alliance.

Ukraine's pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, who took power in 2010 and was toppled in a revolution earlier this year, had pursued non-aligned status. President Petro Poroshenko, who was elected to succeed him in June, had also said he did not back joining NATO because there was no popular support for it.

But with the conflict in the east escalating since then, Ukrainian officials say public support for joining the alliance is mounting, and they have increasingly spoken about needing the formal protection of the alliance.

Despite NATO's concern over the situation in Ukraine, the 28-nation alliance has said repeatedly it has no intention of intervening militarily to protect the country, which it is not obliged to defend as a non-member.

Speaking in Brussels on Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia's direct military operations in Ukraine were in blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Despite Moscow's hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine," Rasmussen said.

"This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation," he added.

He said NATO would fully respect any decision by the Ukrainian parliament to abandon Ukraine's non-aligned status and set out to seek NATO membership.

Yatseniuk said earlier this week that Ukraine hoped for "practical help" from the alliance when it holds a summit in Wales next week which will be dominated by the Ukrainian crisis.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth)
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