February 7, 2014 -- U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland refused to comment Friday on the leak of an apparently bugged private phone conversation in which the speaker makes a disparaging remark about the European Union.
Nuland told reporters Friday she will not comment on a "private diplomatic conversation." But she called the recording of the call "pretty impressive tradecraft," saying the audio quality of the recording was very good.
U.S. officials have implied Russia may be involved in the leak of the recording, which features voices resembling those of Assistant Secretary of State 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.
U.S. officials on Thursday pointed to a tweet by an aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as the first to promote the recording, which appeared on the YouTube website.
An aide to Rogozin, Dmitry Loskutov, told the Associated Press on Friday that neither Rogozin nor the Russian government played a role in leaking the tape.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said 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.
Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency on Friday quoted Nuland as calling a Russian allegation that Ukrainian anti-government militants are being trained on the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv "pure fantasy."
That claim was made by Sergei Glazyev, President Vladimir Putin's adviser on regional integration, in a newspaper interview published Thursday.
Nuland arrived in Kyiv on Thursday to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych amid ongoing protests in the capital.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in on the situation Friday, saying through a spokeswoman that the comments are "totally unacceptable." She also praised the work of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who has led the EU effort to assist Ukraine with its conflict.
(c) 2012 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.
Original headline: U.S. Diplomat: No Comment on Alleged EU Statement
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