Victoria Nuland Tape Leaks Amid US-Russia Tussle Over Ukraine (Audio)

Friday, 07 Feb 2014 10:02 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Victoria Nuland, the top U.S. diplomat in Europe, apologized this week for using strong language in a private leaked phone conversation regarding Ukraine's political crisis.

Nuland, who was appointed assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs last year, was recorded saying, "F--- the EU," in a January phone call with Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

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"Let me convey that she has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course has apologized," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday.

The conversation seemed to be a discussion of what political players should and shouldn't join a new government under an offer last month from President Viktor Yanukovych. The offer suggested that opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk take over as the new prime minister and Vitaly Klitschko serve as deputy prime minister — an offer both men ultimately turned down, according to The Associated Press.

It's not clear how exactly the conversation was recorded but it's thought to be authentic. The call was posted on YouTube with Russian subtitles earlier this week and Psaki called the video "a new low in Russian tradecraft," indirectly suggesting that Russia was responsible for bugging the call.

Many were riled by Nuland's flippant comments regarding the EU but others were irked by her apparent manipulation of the shaping of Ukraine's government. But White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday it's not unusual for U.S. diplomats to have a hand in reconciling international conflict.

It's "certainly no secret" that U.S. officials "have been working with the government of Ukraine, with the opposition, with business and civil society leaders to support their efforts to find a peaceful solution through dialogue and political and economic reform," he said. "Ultimately, it’s up to the Ukrainian people to decide their future."

This isn’t the first time Nuland has faced controversy. She was at the center of all the Benghazi cover-up rumors after she reportedly objected to the release of the talking points, which painted the 2012 scandal as a terrorist attack.

Warning: The video below contains strong language.

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