'US, Russia mustn't compete for allies'

Lavrov says countries should not force former Soviet republics to choose between Washington, Moscow.

Lavrov mean 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Lavrov mean 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
After communist Moldova accused pro-Western Romania of backing violent protests that left dozens hurt and some 200 arrested, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that the United States and Russia should not force former Soviet republics to choose between an alliance with Washington and Moscow. In an interview with RIA Novosti, the Voice of Russia radio station and the Russia Today TV channel, Lavrov said that there should be no "hidden agendas" in US-Russia ties. "It is unacceptable to give them [former Soviet republics] a false choice - either you are with us or against us - as this will result in a battle for spheres of influence, something which Russian foreign policy has been accused of," he was quoted by RIA as saying. "We are not doing this. We are developing equal and beneficial relations with everyone." Lavrov said that since the April 1 meeting in London between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart Barack Obama, bilateral dialogue had changed dramatically. "This definitely allows us to speak about the beginning of a new atmosphere in Russian-American relations, and the birth of a new culture of dialogue, a culture of mutual respect, with an understanding that the sides will strive not only to listen, but to hear one another," Lavrov said. The Russian foreign minister went on to say that there was now a greater emphasis on practical goals. "I believe this is the most important positive signal, which distinguishes the current stage of Russian-US relations from previous years, and I hope the result of this will be that, in saying the right words, we turn them into practical actions," he said. However, Lavrov stopped short of saying that Russian-American ties had been reset. "I would prefer that we swapped these terms and slogans for the substance of relations. We are a long way from starting from zero in Russian-American interaction - a lot of positive things have developed in these relations, and the main problem has been that the words have diverged from actions," he stressed.