A private conversation between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, pictured, was recorded and posted to YouTube on February 4, 2014. (CC/State Department
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A private conversation between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was recorded and posted to YouTube on Tuesday, a leak that the State Department seemed to attribute to Russia and referred to as "a new low in Russian tradecraft" at a daily press briefing on Thursday.
In the four-minute audio recording, the senior diplomatic officials discuss Ukrainian opposition leaders and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's selection of UN Special Envoy Robert Serry to travel to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Based on the issues raised in the conversation, it appears to have been recorded sometime between January 25 and January 28.
Press seized on an expletive-laced statement uttered by Nuland in the recording, when she says "Fuck the EU." Ukraine's Kyiv Post used her now infamous statement as the headline for an article about the leaked conversation.
When asked to comment on Nuland's harsh word choice, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at Thursday's daily press briefing that Nuland "has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course, has apologized." With regard to U.S. and EU collaboration on the political crisis in Ukraine, Psaki said "clearly, we've been working closely with them on what should happen on Ukraine... And if we have frustrations, we express those privately as well."
The State Department regards the publication of the incident as "a new low in Russian tradecraft." Although Psaki acknowledged she couldn't confirm the origin of the video, she asserted the Russian government "promoted this and were the first to tweet about it." An aide to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was among the first to tweet the leak. Psaki noted that "... this is something they've been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about, and certainly that we feel that represents a new low."