The U.S. State Department is firing back at Russia for its role in the alleged leak of an apparently bugged telephone conversation, about Ukraine, between two senior American diplomats, in which they are said to make disparaging comments about the European Union.
A recording has been posted to YouTube of voices resembling those of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The people on the alleged call discuss international efforts to resolve Ukraine's ongoing political crisis, and at one point, the voice resembling Nuland's uses vulgar wording to suggest the European Union's position should be ignored.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki spoke Thursday in Washington.
"This is a new low in Russian trade craft in terms of publicizing, posting. I don't have any other independent details about the origin of the YouTube video, you're right. This has clearly happened overnight and is relatively new. But this is something they've been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about, and certainly we feel that represents a new low."
Both Psaki and White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed to a tweet by an aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, which Psaki says was the first to promote the video.
Carney said Thursday the official's tweet, some seven hours before the video was publicly noticed, "says something about Russia's role'' in the matter.
The YouTube video is subtitled in Russian, raising suspicions that it was posted by a Russia-friendly source. Neither U.S. official would comment on the source of the audio.
Nuland arrived in Kyiv on Thursday to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych amid ongoing protests in the capital.
Psaki says Nuland has contacted her EU counterparts and apologized.