In the call, the U.S. diplomat, assistant secretary of state for European affairs Victoria Nuland, can be heard saying "Fuck the EU" to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.
The "undiplomatic" language of the high-level official made headlines on Thursday after the recording of the conversation between the two diplomats was posted online. But the controversy deepened on Friday as new questions were being asked about the origin of the recording, the role of U.S. "meddling" in the ongoing political strife in Ukraine, and the fact that the U.S. may have become victim of the same kind of surveillance techniques that the NSA—as exposed in leaks by whisteblower Edward Snowden—have been hard at work perfecting.
That last irony was not lost on many who took to Twitter over the last twenty-four hours:
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) February 6, 2014
— Tim Bravo (@TimBravo) February 7, 2014
After the NSA, no one in US government can really point a finger about recording people's phones - can they? http://t.co/C47P0d3coc
— Sean Sinico (@smsin) February 7, 2014
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As the U.S., including Nuland herself, tried to account for the comments made in the call growing speculation surfaced that it was Russian intelligence who both made the recording and helped disseminate it to the public.
As this ITN News segment explores:
And the New York Times adds:
A link to the secret recording was sent out in a Twitter message on Thursday by Dmitry Losukov, an aide to Russia’s deputy prime minister, just as Ms. Nuland was in Kiev meeting with Mr. Yanukovych and opposition leaders. The White House pointed to that as an indication of Russian involvement, although it said it was not accusing Moscow of taping the call. “I think it says something about Russia’s role,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said she had no information about who posted the recording but criticized Moscow for promoting it. “Certainly, we think this is a new low in Russian tradecraft,” she said.
Mr. Losukov, responding to messages from a reporter on Twitter, rejected the American assertion that he was the first to disseminate the recording. “Disseminating started earlier,” he wrote, adding that his post was being “used to hang the blame” on Russia. Asked if Russia had any role, he said: “How would I know? I was just monitoring ‘the Internets’ while my boss was off to a meeting with the Chinese leader."
The secret tape, reported Thursday by The Kyiv Post, came to light as a Kremlin adviser, Sergei Glazyev, accused the United States of funding and arming protesters in Kiev and seemed to threaten Russian intervention.