Russia Denies Secret Talks with U.S. on Ukraine
Russia on Wednesday denied a claim by Finland that it held secret talks with the United States in June on ways to resolve the Ukraine conflict.
The foreign ministry said "a meeting of experts" from the two countries had indeed taken place at the end of June on the island of Boistoe off Finland.
"However, these were not consultations between official representatives of two states, but one of the numerous contacts established between Russian and American non-governmental organisations and academic communities," the ministry said in a statement.
It said the Finland meeting concluded with the adoption of a "document containing thoughts on ways to overcome the Ukraine crisis".
The Finnish foreign ministry had said on Tuesday it helped organised talks between Russian and U.S. officials, without specifying who was involved.
Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja also confirmed that "unofficial and private" talks had been held.
Relations between Russia and the United States have chilled to levels not seen since the Cold War era over Moscow's alleged financial and military backing of pro-Kremlin insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies any direct link to the rebels but refuses to call on them to cease fire or disarm.