"We never said
there were no people there who were carrying out certain tasks
including in the military sphere," Putin told an annual news
"But that does not mean there are Russian (regular) troops
there, feel the difference."
Putin said Russia was ready to persuade separatists in eastern
Ukraine that a compromise was needed in order to achieve a
political settlement of the conflict there.
He also said he expected trade relations with Ukraine to worsen,
but that Moscow would not impose any sanctions on Kiev related
to its trade deal with the European Union.
(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Christian Lowe; Writing by
Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
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