WASHINGTON (TIP): Washington’s new top diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, apologized on February 6 to EU counterparts after she was caught cursing about the European response to the crisis in Ukraine in a bugged phone call.
*** the EU,” Nuland allegedly says in what appeared to be a recent phone call with US ambassador to Kiev, Geoff Pyatt, which was somehow intercepted and uploaded onto YouTube accompanied by Russian captions. US officials, while not denying such a conversation took place, refused to go into details, and pointed the finger at Russia for allegedly bugging the diplomats’ phones.
“Let me convey that she has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course has apologized,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. While Psaki said she had no independent details of how the conversation was captured and uploaded onto the social networking site, she added: “Certainly we think this is a new low in Russian tradecraft.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney alleged that the fact that it had been “tweeted out by the Russian government, it says something about Russia’s role.” Nuland, who took over late last year as assistant secretary for European affairs, and Pyatt appear to discuss President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer last month to make opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk the new prime minister and Vitaly Klitschko, deputy prime minister. Both men turned the offer down.
Nuland, who in December went down to Independence Square in Kiev in a show of support for the demonstrators, adds she has also been told that the UN chief Ban Ki-moon is about to appoint a former Dutch ambassador to Kiev, Robert Serry, as his representative to Ukraine. “That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, f*** the EU,” she says, in apparent frustration at policy differences.
“We’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it,” Pyatt replies. Psaki sought to downplay any tensions with the European Union over Ukraine, which has been rocked by weeks of protests by pro-democracy protestors.
Demonstrators were angered by Yanukovych’s sudden decision last year to abandon moves to sign an association accord with the EU, and instead solicit a financial aid package from former Soviet master, Russia. Psaki said the United States, which is mulling possible sanctions on Ukraine if it cracks down on the protests, has “been working closely” with the EU.