A senior US State Department official has allegedly been caught giving an unexpected message to the EU while discussing Ukrainian opposition leaders’ roles in the country’s future government. The phone call was taped and posted on YouTube.
“F**k the EU,” Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland allegedly said in a recent phone call with US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, as the two were discussing a deal to end the crisis in Ukraine.
The four-minute video – titled ‘Maidan puppets,’ referring to Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital – was uploaded by an anonymous user. The origin of the recording is not clear. The video was first reported in the Kyiv Post.
The US State Department did not deny the authenticity of the video and stressed that Nuland had apologized for the “reported comments.”
The conversation is mainly focused on Ukraine’s government and President Viktor Yanukovich’s offer last month to make opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk the new prime minister and Vitaly Klitschko deputy prime minister.
“I don’t think that Klitschko should go into the government. I don’t think it is necessary. I don’t think it is a good idea,” a female voice – allegedly Nuland – said.
“In terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework,” a male voice – believed to be Pyatt – replied. “In terms of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate democrats together,” he said.
As Nuland sees it, Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk should be in charge of the new government and Klitschko would not get along with him. “It’s just not going to work,” she said.
Nuland added that she has also been told that UN chief Ban Ki-moon is about to appoint the 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**k the EU,” she said in apparent reference to their differences over policies.
“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 replied.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment on the tape’s contents, but did not deny its authenticity.
“I did not say it was not authentic,” she said, adding that Nuland had apologized to her EU counterparts for the reported comments.
Meanwhile, 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.”
In the conversation, it sounds like the two officials are playing a game of chess; strategizing on how to put together the government of another country, RT’s Marina Portnaya said while commenting on the report.
Foreign policy expert Nebojsa Malic told RT that even though Nuland apologized for the reported comments, she did not admit her fault in trying to overthrow the government in Ukraine.
“What she hasn’t apologized for is the plans to midwife a new government in Ukraine. In other words, she is apologizing for cussing up the EU, but she is not apologizing for trying to overthrow the government in Kiev, calling it popular democracy,” Malic said. “I don’t think anybody in the US establishment is sorry for what they are trying to do. I think they are very proud of it and they are going to pursue it.”
The leaked chat fuels earlier allegations that Washington is heavily meddling in the Ukrainian political crisis by manipulating the pro-EU opposition and helping it in its efforts to oust President Viktor Yanukovich.
Back in December, Victoria Nuland was spotted in the cradle of the anti-government protests – Kiev’s landmark Independence Square – distributing cookies to demonstrators. Later in the month, Senator John McCain arrived in Kiev to show his support for the opposition. Addressing protesters on Independence Square, he stated that Ukraine’s future was with Europe, adding that the country would “make Europe better.”