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Ukraine military doctrine declares Russia as opponent, supports NATO membership

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KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's national security council on Wednesday approved a new military doctrine that declares Russia to be a military opponent and calls for the country to pursue NATO membership.

There was no immediate official reaction from Russia, which hotly denies claims that it has sent troops and equipment to separatist rebels in Ukraine's east and which opposes Ukraine joining NATO.

The move came amid strong political tensions over President 's efforts to get approval of a constitutional change that would devolve some powers to the regions, including the eastern regions held by the rebels. Opponents say the change would effectively be capitulation to Russia.

It was unclear if the military doctrine's stance against Russia could dilute opposition to the decentralization.

The doctrine now goes to Poroshenko for his signature.

At the security council meeting, Poroshenko said the doctrine "not only officially establishes the Russian Federation as Ukraine's military opponent, but states the task of relocating military units and creating the necessary military infrastructure in the eastern and southern regions."

On Monday, as the Ukrainian parliament gave initial approval to the decentralization measure, a violent protest broke out and three national guardsmen were killed when a grenade was thrown into the crowd.

Two parties in the governing coalition said Wednesday that they won't abandon the grouping amid the intense dispute over the proposal. But those parties' opposition to the measure appears firm and Poroshenko faces a steep battle to push it through.

The initial approval given Monday was well short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

Oleg Berezyuk, head of the Samopomich faction, said Wednesday it will "remain in the coalition in the role of opposition within the parliamentary majority." A member of Poroshenko's faction, Igor Kononeko, said the faction of former Prime Minister would also remain in the coalition, the Interfax news agency reported.

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Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Ukrainian soldiers pay the last tribute to a coffin bearing the body of National Guard soldier Igor Derbin who was killed in a Monday clash,  at a military base in Novi Petrivtsi outside Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Ukrainian police say 141 people remain hospitalized after a nationalist protest in Kiev turned violent, with 10 of the injured in serious condition. Three  officers died from their wounds. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian soldiers pay the last tribute to a coffin bearing the body of National Guard soldier Igor Derbin who was killed in a Monday clash, at a military base in Novi Petrivtsi outside Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Ukrainian police say 141 people remain hospitalized after a nationalist protest in Kiev turned violent, with 10 of the injured in serious condition. Three officers died from their wounds. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

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