Victoria Nuland: Leaked call shows US hand on Ukraine


Nuland declined to comment on the substance of the conversation but said the leak displayed "pretty impressive tradecraft"

Swearing scornfully about your allies isn't great diplomacy - but it is the revelation of the depth of the US involvement in the Ukraine crisis that really catches the eye.

Behind the banging of batons and the chucking of petrol bombs lies a very old struggle: whether Ukraine faces east or west, whether it does trade deals with the European Union or Russian President Vladimir Putin's ersatz Russian reflection of the EU, the Eurasian Union.

Much is at stake, not just for Ukraine, but others in the region facing a similar dilemma.

It seems Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, whose conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was leaked on YouTube, felt the EU was being tardy and inefficient.

Pity poor EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (the term "foreign minister" was rejected by real foreign ministers, and her official title is "high representative of the Union for foreign affairs and security policy") - who has to check her every move with Berlin, Paris, London and Warsaw not to mention the Baltic states and the Scandinavians, indeed any of the EU's 28 countries who might have a view on how to handle Russia.

The US state department does not, yet, have to consult the governor of Alabama on such matters, and so Ms Nuland could instead plot with the ambassador on who should and shouldn't be in a new Ukrainian cabinet.

After all the NSA revelations, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's umbrage at them, saying a naughty word about the main players in the region is excruciatingly awkward.

But it's the larger conversation, which shows the US is manipulating Ukraine just as much as Russia, that is the real diplomatic disaster.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    The leaked conversation was a welcome opportunity for the Kremlin to divert attention from it's own attempts to manipulate the outcome in Ukraine, and how ineffective those measures have proven to be.

    That said, how could folks at the State Department be unaware of the dangers of phone calls being intercepted after all the media attention its received lately?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    25 So what. Europe needs us, we don't need them. The EU has come crawling back to the US ever since the financial crisis. One reason President Bush bailed out AIG is because Europe begged him to. If he hadn't. Europe's biggest banks would have folded tent then and there in 2008. As it is, they're on the cusp of the end anyway. It's just a matter of time. Let those blowhards say what they like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Neither the US or the EU have ANY Right whatsoever trying to manipulate the elections of sovereign states!

    The rest of the world should pour billions of advertising dollars into the next US presidential and congressional elections. Maybe they can save the world by helping to elect decent US leaders for the first time in 30 years with integrity and half a brain!

    What goes around comes around!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Sieu: Europe's against the US was sheer stupidity on their part

    Its been planned for a long, long time

    Actually its extremely clever but clever doesn't always mean good

    EU wants to convince USA they have good intentions but I am not convinced

    Europe has always been colonial and this still holds true today

    Russia has made public this growing division between America and EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    19 Europe's against the US was sheer stupidity on their part.Europe is also at war with China for resources, energy, and markets.It's a war Europe is losing very badly.While China has plenty of its own problems this is one war Europe cannot win.There's been a shift in world economic order.Europe holds a losing hand.It hasn't got a single advantage over all others.Someone else is always better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Considering my country spies on everyone, we should all be amused the Administration did not think Russia would reciprocate. That said, the story is not about the US manipulating Ukraine, but rather Russia's attempt to create a schism between the US and Europe by releasing this recording. The question now is whether European leaders are gullible. I suspect Merkel is not, despite the headline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    @ #21 - And how easily the EU population is distracted by an apparent Russian attempt to discredit American diplomats. That's the sad part about it. You are all so concerned about the "slight' that you are totally overlooking that you are once-again being manipulated into postponing any attempt to prevent Russia from regaining its Soviet empire. You folks are too easily distracted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    The person/s that uploaded the telephone conversation had been active for at least one month with their propaganda against the Maidan protests which is obviously originating from Russia. What is incredible is how slow the EU and USA are with their propaganda and the totally ineffective and unprofessional manner in which they conduct their puppetry. Score= Putin 2, EU 0 - 'cos he got Syria too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    15"In short: the point is to PROVOKE the Russians"

    Right again.Why WOULDN'T the US provoke Russia?Why wouldn't it create a confrontation?Russia had done everything possible to confront the US.To the KGB the US is still the enemy.Tsar Putin wants to rebuild the USSR's empire.He said so himself.Time to take big bad Russia down a few pegs.We're not timid like the Bleeping EU.We are not afraid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Kirin: Do all you Europeans who thought Obama was so great in 08 still this so?

    EU wants to see USA go down so they are glad for Obama ruining USA's relations with all our allies which opens the door for EU to take our place

    EU is a one-world order similar to a corporation

    If you think its intense now, just give it another 10 years

    One day EU is going to try to take over USA

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.


    In private conversations diplomats, politicians, and generally all people speak in hyperbole. Look behind the word, and understand its idea.

    "F-- EU" is saying "They are unwilling or unable to exact meaningful change on this situation"

    I think that estimation is correct. Do not read too much into this. Also remember, these protesters wanted to be in the EU...

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I agree that the more important question is why the Russians who were monitoring the conversation, chose to make this remark public . It is to their advantage to show that the US is "meddling" in Ukrainian affairs to give them carte blanche for even more intervention - for example Putin is appointing the next Primr Minister as we speak. These comments would get attention, especially the f word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    One very important detail seems to be eluding everyone's attention here. Listen closely to what American ambassador to Ukraine said:

    "Pyatt: (....) we've got to do something to make it stick together BECAUSE you can be pretty sure that IF IT DOES START TO GAIN ALTITUDE, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it."

    In short: the point is to PROVOKE the Russians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    10"I guess this is American understanding of the "special relations"."

    Precisely. Why would anyone who watched, listened, paid attention to what was happening instead of prepared speeches think otherwise? This is how we see Europe. This is always how we've seen Europe. This is even how we saw the UK in WWII. We owe Europe nothing. Quite the opposite. And how ungrateful it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    By their rude and telling comments,I take it that the US is not with it's allies anymore. They are able to make an enemy of friends. Europe was in love with the USA in 2008 when Obama came to power and hating the USA in 2014. Not a very good record is it Mr Obama?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I wish the U.S. government was as supportive of free speech in the USA as it seems to be in the Ukraine. During the Occupy Wall Street protests, there was a massive police presence, intimidation of demonstrators, police brutality, and widespread repression of peaceful protestors. Yet in the Ukraine the US government believes that the police should not respond to rock throwing, arson, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Nothing new about Victoria's language ....just another older woman trying to show that she can play with the big dogs and use the F word .... to be insecure at her age must be troubling

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Oh, give me a break! The point of her comment was that the EU was irrelevant if the UN could get involved in the situation; that's just a fact. You people are acting as if you've never used a swear word yourselves in a supposedly PRIVATE conversation. The more important question is: who monitored that conversation and who made it public? Who gains from this hypocritical public furor?

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Remember Newland is critcizing an appointed official of a failed experiment called the EU. This not criticizing the foriegn minister of a nation allied with the U.S.

    Ashton is so incredibly ignorant that she has no business being in the room with the grown ups


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