UK & World News
US Diplomat Drops F-Bomb In Leaked Audio
A leaked conversation over Ukraine in which a senior US diplomat uses a disparaging comment on the EU has embarrassed Washington and escalated a war of words with Moscow.
The US has suggested it suspects Russia of leaking the conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the American ambassador to Kiev discussing how to shape a new Government in Kiev.
In return, Moscow has accused the US of interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs.
Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in, saying the comment was "absolutely unacceptable".
Audio of the call was posted to the Internet.
In it, voices resembling those of Ms Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt discuss international efforts to resolve Ukraine's ongoing political crisis.
At one point, the Nuland voice uses an expletive to suggest the EU's position should be ignored.
"F*** the EU," she is heard saying.
US officials stopped short of directly accusing Russia of surreptitiously recording the conversation.
But they noted a Russian Government official's tweet called attention to the audio shortly after it was posted on YouTube.
The State Department said the incident marked a "new low in Russian tradecraft".
White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian Government, I think it says something about Russia's role."
US officials did not challenge the authenticity of the call bugged about 12 days ago.
The YouTube video is titled the Marionettes of Maidan in Russian. Maidan is the name of the main square in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, which has become the centre of opposition protests.
The two US officials agreed that former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, a key figure in the opposition to pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, should not be in the cabinet.
"I don't think Klitsch (Klitschko) should go into the Government," Ms Nuland said.
"I don't think it's a good idea."
She also discussed the prospect of a UN envoy endorsing a new Government: "That would be great ... to have the UN help glue it and you know ... F*** the EU."
Ms Nuland has apologised to European Union officials for her remarks, the State Department said.
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