Updated 1:44 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The United States’ top diplomat for European affairs appears to have been caught on tape saying “fuck the EU” in a leaked phone call with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The Kyiv Post, an English-language newspaper in Ukraine, published the tape on Thursday. The recording’s veracity has not been independently verified.
The phone call appears to show Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland discussing the political situation in Ukraine with a man who sounds to be Ambassador Geoff Pyatt and weighing the merits of different opposition leaders.
A woman who sounds like Nuland says, “I don’t think it’s a good idea” for opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko to be given a role in the government. She appears to favor the idea of having Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader, as the new prime minister, saying he has “the economic experience, the governing experience.”
She then tells a man who sounds like Pyatt that the United Nations agreed to send someone to help “glue” the deal.
“And you know, fuck the EU,” Nuland says.
“Exactly,” Pyatt says.
It is unclear how the phone call was recorded, who recorded it, and when exactly it is from, but the Kyiv Post notes that it appears to be from after the Jan. 25 offer by President Victor Yanukovych to bring on Yatseniuk as prime minister and Klitschko as deputy prime minister. Both leaders refused the offer.
“We have no comment at this time,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Kiev told BuzzFeed. A spokesperson for Nuland did not immediately return a request for comment.
“The EU is engaged in helping the people of Ukraine through the current political crisis. We don’t comment on alleged leaked telephone conversations,” Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton, told BuzzFeed.
In the daily White House briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney implied that Russia was responsible for the tape.
“I’m not going to comment on the content of, you know, private diplomatic conversations,” Carney said. “You know, I would say, since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia’s role. But the content of the conversation is not something I’m going to comment on.”
Asked if he was saying Russia had tapped the phone call, Carney said “I’m not. I’m just noting that they tweeted it out.”
Max Seddon contributed reporting from Kiev, Ukraine.
- At least three people – including a police officer – died in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. The suspect is in police custody. ›
- At least 15 people were killed after a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite Muslim procession of hundreds of people in Nigeria. ›
- And how well do you know what happened in the news this week? Take our quiz. ›