HELSINKI, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that the Ukrainians should have their own choices freely without interference from the outside.
Lavrov made the remarks at a press conference held on Monday evening after meeting with his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja in Turku, a southern city of Finland.
Concerning the situation in Ukraine, Tuomioja said that Finland wants Ukraine to live peacefully like any other country, and the Ukrainian people should have rights to choose their own way without foreign intervention.
Lavrov agreed with Tuomioja and said that the Ukrainians should have their own choices freely without interference from the outside. He criticized that the West has interfered what happened in Ukraine in the past and during the current crisis.
Lavrov said that the Russian position on the situation in Ukraine will be based on the Geneva accord and the OSCE road map, adding that on this basis, Ukraine's internal dialogue will be developed.
The two ministers also discussed about European Union (EU)-Russian relations.
The Finnish foreign minister said that "dialogue and transparency are needed between the EU and Russia," even though there might be different views on various matters.
At the invitation of Tuomioja, the Russian foreign minister is making an official visit to Finland from June 9 to 10. Lavrov is also due to meet Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday.
Lavrov's two-day official visit coincided with the foreign and security policy conference held by Niinisto on June 8 to 9 in Kultaranta, an official summer residence of the president.
The conference focused on the ongoing domestic debate over NATO membership as well as other forms of security cooperation.
On this issue, the visiting Russian foreign minister warned against an enlargement of NATO, saying that "an artificial attempt to continue NATO expansion ... is counterproductive and contradicts the obligations which NATO country members have taken upon themselves."
Commenting on the bilateral relations with Finland, Lavrov said, "I would like to emphasize that our relationship with Finland is important and based on good-neighborliness," adding "we don't want that political issues affect such good relations."
He sees the Russian-Finnish relationship as a good example for developing other partnerships, for instance, the Russian relations with the EU.
Beofre Lavrov's visit, Russian foreign ministry's spokesman Aleksandr Lukasevits criticized Finland for lining up with western powers over Russia's role in Ukraine, saying that these steps are not consistent with the spirit of good neighbors between Russia and Finland nor the principles of mutual interest.
Responding to the criticism, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen told Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat that Finnish-Russian relationship has not been affected by the Ukraine crisis and Lavrov's planned visit to Finland could be a good example.
The Finnish prime minister argued that like all the other countries Finland has maintained bilateral relations with various communities, including an EU common policy.
WASHINGTON, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Monday that it was hoping for "significant progress" this week in ending the ongoing attacks in eastern Ukraine.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf cited encouraging developments in the past few days, including the Friday meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's President- elect Petro Poroshenko in Normandy, France, and Moscow's sending back of its ambassador for Poroshenko's inauguration on Saturday. Full story