The American diplomat who was apparently caught on tape cursing the European Union’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine wouldn’t comment on the controversy Friday, only saying the leak of the audio was “pretty impressive trade-craft.”
Victoria Nuland, the top American diplomat for Europe, has been in the spotlight ever since audio emerged earlier this week of what appears to be a conversation between herself and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. At one point, Nuland’s voice can be heard saying “f—k the E.U.” American officials, who have neither confirmed nor disputed the authenticity of the recording, have suggested a Russian role in leaking it. Nuland, speaking Friday to reporters in Kiev, said she wouldn’t comment on a “private diplomatic conversation,” but did concede, “it was pretty impressive trade-craft, the audio was extremely clear.”
Nuland is in Kiev holding meetings with senior government and opposition officials. Ukraine has been embroiled in political crisis for months as the ruling government leans closer to Russia, over the objections of protesters angry the country rejected a trade deal with Europe.
Nuland said Friday that U.S.-Russian relations are “very broad, very deep and they are often complex.” An aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who first gave the leaked recording wider attention by posting it on Twitter, denied any Russian role in the leak. Russia has accused Washington and the E.U. of meddling in Ukraine’s affairs. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that Merkel considers Nuland’s comments to be “totally unacceptable.”