(CNN) — Moments after blasting what he called Russia’s illegal “military aggression” of his nation, Ukraine’s interim leader insisted Thursday that a peaceful resolution that ends with Kiev and Moscow becoming “real partners” is still possible.

“We still believe that we have a chance to resolve these conflicts in a peaceful manner,” interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the U.N. Security Council.

Yatsenyuk’s remarks come as thousands of Russian troops staged military exercises not far from his nation’s border.

And they are entirely new, given that Ukrainian officials have previously called for talks and slammed what they say is Russia’s military invasion of their country, something that Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied.

Still, the stage — addressing representatives of the world’s most powerful nations, Russia among them — makes the assertions more salient, as does the fast approaching referendum in which residents of the Crimean Peninsula will vote whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

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