The State Department’s top official for Europe was allegedly caught on tape saying, “F — the E.U.,” in what was an apparent a bout of frustration toward the European Union’s lack of action in solving Ukraine’s political crisis.
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland allegedly made the inflammatory remarks, which were posted on YouTube on Feb. 4 and first reported by The Kyiv Post on Thursday. Nuland was reportedly speaking to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The U.S. pointed a finger at Russia for having a role in the call’s leak.
The publication reported that the conversation took place after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych made an offer on Jan. 25 to opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk. Under the deal, he would become prime minister, while former pro boxer Vitali Klitschko would be deputy prime minister.
“That would be great to help glue this thing and to have the U.N. help glue it,” the voice resembling Nuland’s says on the recording. “And you know, f — the EU.”
The audio could not be independently verified. The U.S. did not confirm the authenticity of the audio, but State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday that Nuland had apologized to E.U. officials for the reported comments. However, she did not confirm whether Nuland had made the remarks.
The U.S. also blamed Russia for the audio exploding into the news cycle on Thursday.
“Certainly we think this is a new low in Russian tradecraft in terms of publicizing and posting this,” she said at the daily State Department press briefing.
A senior Russian official and aide to deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin was among the first to tweet about the call early Thursday morning:
“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,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.
The YouTube video is titled the “Marionettes of Maidan” in Russian. Maidan is the name of the main square in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, which has become the center of the opposition protests.
Here’s the full audio of the call:
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