Russia's foreign minister says the United States and other Western countries must not meddle in the former Soviet Union.

Sergey Lavrov told a group of foreign business leaders Wednesday that Russia has no monopoly on relations with neighboring former Soviet republics. He said Moscow understands that the U.S. and European Union have interests in the region.

But Lavrov said Western countries must not protect those interests at Russia's expense, and warned against "behind-the-scenes meddling" in Moscow's backyard.

Lavrov said the U.S. and EU are key partners and echoed Russian leaders' expressions of hope for constructive relations with the incoming U.S. administration.

But he stressed Russia's opposition to U.S. missile defense plans and NATO expansion.