Two key American foreign service officials were caught disparaging the European Union during a phone conversation that was apparently bugged.
The voices of top U.S. diplomat for Europe Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, discuss international efforts to resolve Ukraine's ongoing political crisis. The AP reports, “At one point, the Nuland voice colorfully suggests that the EU's position should be ignored. ‘F--- the EU,’ the female voice said.”
Federal officials say they believe Russia is behind the intercept.
An aide to Russian deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, was among the first to tweet about a YouTube video of the recording, which shows photos of Nuland and Pyatt and is subtitled in Russian.
The tweet, which posted about seven hours before existence of the video became widely known, read: "Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU."
White House spokesman Jay Carney drew attention to Russia’s role in what has become a struggle between pro-Moscow and pro-Western camps in the former Soviet Republic.
"I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia's role," Carney told reporters.
The video was posted on Feb. 4 and is titled the "Marionettes of Maidan.” Maidan is the name of the main square in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, which has become the center of protests.
“The practice of eavesdropping on the phone calls of other governments — even between allies — was the first diplomatic fallout from the publication of documents taken by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden,” the AP notes. “The documents he took and that were published in such newspapers as The Washington Post, the New York Times and The Guardian showed that the United States listened in to the phone calls of allies such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
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