Russia is prepared to act as a mediator between Ukraine's opposition and government in their search for a solution to the crisis in the country if Russia is asked to, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"We will not mind acting as a mediator between the authorities and the opposition if the authorities and the opposition themselves ask us to do so. But we are not going to impose our mediation services on them, as we can frequently see today on the part of other partners of Ukraine. It should be a genuinely free choice," Lavrov said at a press conference after talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow on Friday.
"We are not opposed to building such relations across the whole of Europe and Eurasia - ties that would exclude any temptations to play on political differences," the Russian minister said.
Words about Ukraine's free choice are often accompanied by attempts to "impose this choice [on Ukraine] under the pretext of its alleged freedom," Lavrov said.
"I completely agree with Frank-Walter that there should not be any spheres of influence, but persuading Ukraine to join one side, at the same time warning it that it will have to choose between the European Union and Russia, is effectively an attempt to create such a sphere of influence," he said.
"In my opinion, when speaking about the freedom of choice, it is not totally appropriate and polite to send emissaries there on a daily basis. They come to Kiev uninvited and try to persuade the Ukrainian authorities to make the choice favored by the EU and the United States," the Russian minister said.