Sci Fi / Young Adult - Hardback book that I checked out of the middle school library sometime around '94/'95. Do not remember any other details about the author or cover.
Plot: From what I can remember, the story involves two separate human factions (possibly Americans and Russians), that land on an alien planet. They discover a native sentient species, that is somewhat barbaric or in early stages of development. The natives are symmetrical, with multiple eyes/mouths/arms/tentacles spread evenly over their bodies. Think of a chess pawn, put 3+ or so legs around the base, spaced evenly. Same for arms/tentacles, mouths, eyes, sensor pods, etc.
At first, the Russians and Americans attempt to communicate with the natives, learning their language, culture, conduct trading etc. However, at some point, something changes (can't remember this detail), and the Americans and Russians start fighting one another, either indirectly or by involving the natives. I think they may even helped form and arm their own factions of the natives to set against one another.
Hopefully this jars someones memory.