Russia warns U.S. against competition for allies

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States and Russia should not force former Soviet republics to choose between an alliance with Washington and Moscow, RIA news agency reported on Thursday.

In remarks which appeared to refer to political disturbances in ex-Soviet Moldova, Lavrov said there should be no “hidden agendas” in relations between the United States and Russia.

“It is inadmissible to try to place a false choice before them -- either you are with us or against us -- otherwise this will lead to a whole struggle for spheres of influence,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the agency.

Lavrov denied Russia was seeking to build spheres of influence and said it was inappropriate to compare the violence in Moldova with protest movements that brought new leaders to power in other former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

He said Russia had been disturbed by the events in Moldova and called on the European Union and NATO member Romania to ensure Moldovan statehood was not undermined by people waving Romanian flags.

(Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Michael Stott