‘It is not a negotiation’

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from CNN,

Russian military force not ruled out.

The tense, high-stakes standoff between Ukraine and Russia continued Tuesday, with both sides insisting they don’t want war but publicly offering little evidence of their willingness to budge.

Petro Poroshenko, a Ukrainian parliamentarian who has been charged with leading negotiations with the new government of Crimea — a disputed region thought to be threatened by a Russian takeover — told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “today we (had) the first sign of contact between our minister of defense and Russia’s minister of defense,” as well as talks involving other ministers.

“But it is not a negotiation, unfortunately,” said Poroshenko, a billionaire businessman and former Ukrainian foreign minister. “We try to do our best to use any opportunity for peaceful negotiation. But … we don’t have any sign of hope … from the Russian side.”

The comments are the latest indicating Ukrainian officials’ attempts to peacefully prevent a full-scale war over the Crimean peninsula, which had been part of Russia until it was ceded to Ukraine in 1954 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Yuriy Sergeyev, Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, claimed Russia used planes, boats and helicopters to flood the peninsula with 16,000 troops. And Ukrainian officials say disguised Russian troops have laid siege to military installations.

Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday denied sending members of his military into Crimea or that any of the up to 25,000 Russian troops already stationed in the country had any role in the standoff, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency. He insisted his military isn’t planning to seize the Crimean peninsula — but didn’t close the door on action “to protect local people.”

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