An intercepted phone conversation between top US officials about Ukraine suggests Washington is meddling in the crisis-hit country’s internal affairs.
In a four-minute video, posted on YouTube by an anonymous user, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt discuss which of Ukraine’s opposition leaders they would like to see in government.
“I don’t think that [Vitaly] Klitschko should go into the government. I don’t think it is necessary. I don’t think it is a good idea,” a female voice, allegedly Nuland, said.
“In terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework,” a male voice, believed to be Pyatt, replied. “In terms of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate democrats together,” he said.
Nuland also referred to getting the UN involved in the process to resolve Kiev’s political crisis, saying UN chief Ban Ki-moon is about to appoint Robert Serry, the former Dutch ambassador to Kiev as his representative to the country.
"That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, f**k the EU," she said in apparent reference to their differences over policies.
"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 the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it," Pyatt replied.
The date and precise context of the recording are not known yet, but according to some reports, the call was made last month, based on references in the conversation.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki declined to comment on the taped conversation. However, she did not deny the authenticity of the recording, saying Nuland has called EU officials to apologize for dismissing the European Union in crude terms.
Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests since last November after President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing a deal with the European Union, which could have paved the way for Kiev to join the bloc.
Moscow has repeatedly accused the West of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs and fueling the crisis in the eastern European country.
Earlier this week, Sergey Glazyev, advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin described the situation in Ukraine as an attempted coup and accused the US government of funding and arming what he described as Ukrainian militants.