Russia's foreign minister has sidestepped EU criticism that his country's relationship with the bloc has suffered over its alleged bullying of eastern European nations to keep them under Moscow's sphere of influence.

Sergey Lavrov and his EU counterparts met at a luncheon meeting Monday in which the crisis in Ukraine was a key subject.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says EU-Russia relations were under "a strain." The 28-nation bloc says Moscow used undue pressure to try to keep Ukraine aligned and to convince it to reject a cooperation agreement with the EU.

Lavrov says "it was our common agreement that everyone should respect sovereignty of any country, including Ukraine."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says Russia applied "both a propaganda war and economic pressure" to keep Ukraine in line.