MOSCOW, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Russia's state-backed news agency RIA Novosti said Wednesday the best option for Kremlin policymakers would be to sit on the sidelines of the Ukrainian fray.
A November decision by ousted President Victor Yanukovych to suspend efforts to sign free trade and association agreements with the European Union sparked nationwide protests in Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic.
Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, said the decision was made to protect economic ties with Russia. The Kremlin rewarded him with promises of $15 billion in now suspended loans.
An op-ed published Wednesday by RIA Novosti said "fence-sitting" might be the Kremlin's best option for now. The news agency said the "tough job" of stabilizing Ukraine is now the European Union's. If pro-EU leaders in Kiev fail, the EU "might eventually offer Russia certain concessions in exchange for agreeing to share the burden of salvaging Ukraine," it said.
European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with interim Ukrainian leaders Tuesday in Kiev. Whatever government emerges there should be free from outside interference, she said, but still maintain its relationship with Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in response the Kremlin would stay out of Ukraine's internal affairs.