US official apologises for 'f*** the EU' comment - audio
Assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, apologises to EU counterparts for 'undiplomatic language'
THE United States has issued a humiliating apology after a senior official was heard to say "f*** the EU" in an apparently leaked private phone conversation with the US ambassador to Ukraine.
The alleged phone call between Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state, and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, was released on YouTube on Thursday. The candid chat is thought to have been conducted on an unencrypted line, which led to its interception.
Moscow has accused the US of meddling in the internal affairs of the sovereign former-Soviet state, which Russia hopes to keep within its economic orbit, Reuters reports. The Kremlin went so far as to suggest that the conversation was evidence that the US may be attempting to foment a coup within Ukraine.
In the conversation, the two voices are heard discussing possible candidates from the Ukrainian opposition who might succeed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych if demonstrations manage to topple the current regime.
"I don't think Klitsch (Klitschko) should go into the government," the voice, believed to be Nuland, can be heard saying in the recording.
The US described the interception as "a new low in Russian tradecraft", tacitly implying that Russia is behind both the interception of the call and its publication.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "Since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia's role.”
Washington had previously accused Russia of intervening in Ukraine, by using its economic leverage to try to convince President Yanukovych to break from Brussels.
Nuland paid a visit to demonstrators in Independence Square in December last year to sign a document in support of the popular demonstration. At one point in the call, a voice that sounds like Nuland says that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's plan to appoint the Dutch Ambassador to Kiev, Robert Serry, as his representative to Ukraine may helpful, while suggesting that the EU's approach to date has been insufficient.
"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.
White House officials have not disputed the authenticity of the phone call. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki fell short of confirming the leaked video's legitimacy but said: "I didn't say it was inauthentic." She added that Nuland "has been in contact with her EU counterparts and of course has apologised for these reported comments".