German Chancellor Angela Merkel has strongly criticized a comment that a senior U.S. diplomat made about the European Union’s role in Ukraine.
Merkel considers the comment by the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, to be “absolutely unacceptable,” her spokeswoman said, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this week, Victoria Nuland said “F*** the EU,” in what appeared to be a recent phone conversation with Geoff Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Kiev.
On Thursday, Nuland, apologized for the remark.
“Let me convey that she has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course has apologized,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to Agence France-Presse.
While not denying that the conversation took place, U.S. officials pointed the finger at Russia for allegedly bugging the diplomats’phones.
While Psaki said she had no independent details of how the conversation was captured and uploaded onto the social networking site, she added: “Certainly we think this is a new low in Russian tradecraft.”
In an attempt to limit the damage, U.S. officials suggested that Moscow had leaked the audio recording. They pointed to an early tweet from Dmitry Loskutov, an aide to the deputy prime minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin, that said of the video: “Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU,” according to UK newspaper the Guardian.
White House spokesman Jay Carney claimed that as the comment had been “tweeted out by the Russian government, it says something about Russia's role.”
Not private enough
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland had made the comments during a private conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev as she was planning a deal to end the Ukraine crisis.
The conversation, which was about the European response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, was leaked and uploaded on Youtube on Feb. 4, by an unidentified user, according to KyivPost.
The two U.S. diplomats were discussing a plan to form a unity government that will accommodate both members of the current government led by Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition, which is led in part by former boxer Vitali Klitschko.
Nuland told Ambassador Pyatt that she had been discussing the plan with U.N. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, also a previous top U.S. diplomat, and that he would appoint a U.N. envoy to help push the plan forward.
“That would be great to help glue this thing and to have the U.N. help glue it,” she said. “And you know, f*** the EU.”
Ambassador Pyatt replied: “No, exactly, I think we’ve gotta 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 also described Ukraine’s opposition figure Klitschko as the “top dog” among opposition leaders but implies the boxer was too inexperienced to hold a top government position.
The phone tapping was an ironic twist on a spying scandal which soured relations with the EU last year, after it was revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies had been gathering data from European leaders' phones.
(With AFP)SHOW MORE