Ukraine, US taking different tactics towards Russia

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Ukraine, US taking different tactics towards Russia
Armed pro-Russian activists stand outside the Ukrainian regional administration building which they seized in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. A pro-Russian mob stormed a Ukrainian police station in Horlivka, another city near the Russian border. Later in the day, armed men in masks also seized control of a military airport outside the city of Slovyansk, also in the Donetsk region bordering Russia. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
In this photo taken on Saturday, April 12, 2014, Armed pro-Russian activists stand outside the police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Kramatorsk. The interior minister overnight reported an attack on a police in the city of Kramatorsk, close to the city of Slovyansk. A video from local news web-site Kramatorsk.info showed a group of camouflaged men armed with automatic weapons storming the building. The news web-site also reported that supporters of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic have occupied the administration building, built a barricade with tires around it and put a Russian flag nearby. (AP Photo/Maxim Dondyuk, Russian Reporter magazine) MAGAZINES OUT
Armed pro-Russian activists stand outside the Ukrainian regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. A pro-Russian mob stormed a Ukrainian police station in Horlivka, another city near the Russian border. Later in the day, armed men in masks also seized control of a military airport outside the city of Slovyansk, also in the Donetsk region bordering Russia. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Pro-Russian men throw stones during the mass storming of a police station in Horlivka, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian men attack a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka Monday, April 14, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian men storm a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka on Monday, April 14, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A Pro-Russian activist stands during the mass storming of a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka Monday, April 14, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian men throw stones during the mass storming of a police station in Horlivka, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Russian wearing a gas mask storms a police station in Horlivka, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian men storm a police station in Horlivka, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian men watch during the mass storming of a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka Monday, April 14, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Armed pro-Russian activists seize the Ukrainian regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. A pro-Russian mob stormed a Ukrainian police station in Horlivka, another city near the Russian border. Later in the day, armed men in masks also seized control of a military airport outside the city of Slovyansk, in the Donetsk region bordering Russia. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Armed pro-Russian activists seize the Ukrainian regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, Monday, April 14, 2014. A pro-Russian mob stormed a Ukrainian police station in Horlivka, another city near the Russian border. Later in the day, armed men in masks also seized control of a military airport outside the city of Slovyansk, also in the Donetsk region bordering Russia. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A Pro-Russian activist uses a fire extinguisher during the mass storming of a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka Monday, April 14, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian men attack a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka Monday, April 14, 2014. Several government buildings have fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Russian man throws a stone during the mass storming of a police station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Horlivka on Monday, April 14, 2014. Text on the building reads: "Horlivka's police". Several government buildings has fallen to mobs of Moscow loyalists in recent days as unrest spreads across the east of the country. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian activists escort a man (unseen) who they say is a provocateur outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists escort a man who they say is a provocateur (C) outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia activists assist an Orthodox priest walk through a barricade outside the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists pray near a barricade outside the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An armed pro-Russian protester kisses a cross hanging on the neck of an Orthodox priest as they guard the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russian protesters guard the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia supporters surround a man who they say is a provocateur (C) outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russia supporters walk outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
People greet an ?rmed pro-Russia supporter outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia activists walk near a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russian activists occupy the police station carrying riot shields in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Armed pro-Russian activists occupy the police station carrying riot shields as people watch on, in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME OF THE TOWN - Armed pro-Russian activists occupying the police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk carry riot shields on in Slovyansk, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME OF THE TOWN - Armed pro-Russian men occupying the police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk carry riot shields in Slovyansk, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Armed pro-Russian activists occupy the police station carrying riot shields as people watch on, in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Armed pro-Russian activists occupy the police station carrying riot shields as people watch on, in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Armed pro-Russian activist stands at a makeshift checkpoint at the entrance into the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pro-Russian protesters holding Russian flags gather at the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Protesters, who have held the administration building in Donetsk since Sunday, initially called for a referendum on secession but later reduced the demand to a vote on autonomy within Ukraine with the possibility of holding another later on whether to join Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Ermochenko)
Residents waving Russian flags ride in a car in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Protesters, who have held the administration building in Donetsk since Sunday, initially called for a referendum on secession but later reduced the demand to a vote on autonomy within Ukraine with the possibility of holding another later on whether to join Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Ermochenko)
Armed pro-Russian activists occupy the police station in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Pro-Moscow protesters have seized a number of government buildings in the east over the past week, undermining the authority of the interim government in the capital, Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Riot police officers watch as masked pro-Russian activists leave the regional prosecutor's office after their talks, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Saturday morning a group of pro-Russian activists armed with metal sticks seized the office. Later they have left the building after talks with police. Nobody was arrested. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Masked pro-Russian activists look out of a window of the regional prosecutor's office they seized and barricaded inside, as riot police stand, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Saturday morning a group of pro-Russian activists armed with metal sticks seized the office. They have left the building after talks with police. Nobody was arrested. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Masked pro-Russian activists leave the regional prosecutor's office was riot police, right, watch them, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Saturday morning a group pro-Russian activists armed with metal sticks seized the office. Pro-Russian activists have left the building after talks with police. Nobody was arrested. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Russian activist squints as he warms himself near a fire outside the headquarters of Ukraine's security agency building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 12, 2014. Separatists demanding a referendum to join Russia seized the building a week ago as a wave of secessionist anger swept eastern Ukraine, whose mainly Russian-speaking population feels under threat from a new pro-Western government in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
LUHANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 12: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) A government building occupied by Pro-Russian protesters is seen on April 12, 2014 in Luhansk, Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters have occupied the government building in the eastern cities such as Donetsk and Luhansk, declared the independence from Kiev, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told there is no intention to annex the eastern Ukraine. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
LUHANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 12: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) A government building occupied by Pro-Russian protesters is seen on April 12, 2014 in Luhansk, Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters have occupied the government building in the eastern cities such as Donetsk and Luhansk, declared the independence from Kiev, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told there is no intention to annex the eastern Ukraine. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Po-Russian activists hold shields signed 'Obama hands off Ukraine'and 'Down with US and EU' as they guard a barricade outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 12, 2014. Gunmen have taken over a police station in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin militants are already holding state buildings in several cities, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Saturday. 'Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk,' Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, adding that 'the reaction will be very strong.' He did not provide any other details.. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Po-Russian activists warm themselves outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 12, 2014. Gunmen have taken over a police station in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin militants are already holding state buildings in several cities, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Saturday. 'Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk,' Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, adding that 'the reaction will be very strong.' He did not provide any other details.. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia activists prepare Molotov cocktails as they guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Russia protester guards outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by the armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists stand on a barricade outside a regional police building seized by the armed separatists to prevent storming by the Ukrainian police special team in the eastern city of Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine today launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. 'Units from all of the country's force structures are participating. May God be with us,' the minister wrote on his Facebook page. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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GENEVA (AP) -- Ukraine is hoping to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepares a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest.

The carrot-stick strategy emerged as diplomats from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and Russia prepared to meet Thursday for the first time over the burgeoning crisis that threatens to roil the new government in Kiev.

It also comes as Russia hones a strategy of its own: Push the West as far as possible without provoking crippling sanctions against its financial and energy sectors or a military confrontation with NATO.

"I think we still have a chance to de-escalate the situation using the diplomatic means," Ukraine's foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, told reporters late Wednesday ahead of the talks. "And we are trying hard."

However, Deshchytsia said the diplomatic discussions also must be tempered with efforts "to look for a more concrete and adequate response to Russia's plans and actions."

Obama administration officials tamped down any expectations that the meetings in Geneva would yield a breakthrough or Russian concessions meaningful enough to avoid new U.S. penalties.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began his day with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Asked if he was expecting to make any progress Thursday, Kerry shrugged. He also met individually with Deshchytisa and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before all four of the top diplomats sat down together.

With Ukraine struggling to contain a pro-Russian uprising in its eastern region bordering Russia, the Obama administration is readying additional sanctions against Moscow and a boost in aid for the Ukrainian military in the coming days, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The sanctions likely will target more wealthy individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the entities they run, while military aid could include medical supplies and clothing.

"Each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, there are going to be consequences," President Barack Obama said Wednesday in an interview with CBS News. "Mr. Putin's decisions aren't just bad for Ukraine. Over the long term, they're going to be bad for Russia."

On Thursday, Putin denied claims that Russian special forces were fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine. He called the Ukrainian government's effort to quash the uprising a "crime."

The U.S. military aid was expected to stop short of body armor and other equipment for Ukraine's troops. Additionally, the Obama administration is reluctant to send weapons and ammunition, as Kiev has requested, amid fears that lethal supplies would be seen as an escalatory step by the U.S. and trigger a more aggressive response from the estimated 40,000 Russian forces massed on its border with Ukraine.

Despite the diplomatic freeze between Moscow and Kiev, a senior State Department official said Ukraine's negotiators planned to try to assuage Russia's concerns during Thursday's talks. Deshchytsia and his team were expected to brief Russia and the other diplomats on what Kiev was doing to transfer more power from the central government to the regions, including letting local areas keep more of their funding and elect their own leaders.

The Ukraine diplomats were prepared to field questions from negotiators and even seek Russia's advice on how to quell concerns in Moscow about the rights of Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine and the approaching May 25 presidential elections to ensure they are inclusive for all candidates.

Ukraine's outreach during Thursday's talks would help test whether Russia was willing to respond to a diplomatic solution to the crisis, said the U.S. official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the military alliance would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, including flying more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine and deploying allied warships to the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. NATO's supreme commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, told reporters that ground forces also could be involved at some point, but gave no details.

So far, the military movements and two initial rounds of sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians accused by the West of stirring up the unrest have done little to ease tensions.

Ukraine's military launched its first actions against the pro-Russian forces on Tuesday. A day later, in the eastern Ukraine city of Slovyansk, pro-Russian insurgents took over six Ukrainian armored vehicles along with their crews and hoisted Russian flags over them before driving into town. The Ukrainian soldiers manning the vehicles offered no armed resistance, and masked pro-Russian militias in combat fatigues rode on top of the vehicles in a defiant rejection of Kiev's hope to re-establish control over the restive region.

Insurgents in Slovyansk have seized the police headquarters and the administration building, demanding broader autonomy for eastern Ukraine and closer ties with Russia. Their actions have been repeated in at least eight other cities in eastern Ukraine. The central government says Moscow is provoking the unrest.

On Thursday, Ukraine's interior minister said three pro-Russian militants died and 13 were wounded when Ukrainian troops repelled an attack on a National Guard base in the Black Sea port of Mariupol.

Officials said a full-scale Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine would result in broad U.S. and European sanctions on key Russian economic sectors, including its powerful energy industry. However, European nations are divided on whether to limit its access to Russia's oil and gas supplies, and a vote to sanction must be unanimous among the EU's 28 member states.

The sanctions that could be levied in the aftermath of the Geneva meeting were expected to focus on Putin's close associates, including oligarchs who control much of Russia's wealth, as well as businesses and other entities they control. It was unclear whether those sanctions would change Putin's calculus, given that the U.S. and the Europeans already have launched targeted sanctions on people in Putin's inner circle.

---

Pace reported from Washington. AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington and AP Television News Senior Producer Ed Brown in Geneva contributed to this report.

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