The audio of a phone discussion released Thursday afternoon on YouTube reveals voices reported by the Daily Beast to be those of Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, transparently plotting to broker a deal between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian opposition, before the Russians take action. Nuland attacked the EU for its alleged ineffectiveness in getting a U.S.-designed deal through. The timing of the anonymous audio on YouTube is notable: Nuland is to arrive in Ukraine today.
White House press secretary Jay Carney has already indicated that the Administration believes the leak of the phone conversation came from the Russians.
Nuland can be heard telling Pyatt that she had discussed the plan with U.N. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, formerly of the U.S. State Department, who was to appoint a U.N. representative to move the deal forward. Vice President Joe Biden would also be brought into the plan at the right time, according to Nuland. “That would be great to help glue this thing and to have the U.N. help glue it,” she said. “And you know, fuck the EU.”
“I think we’re in play,” Pyatt responds. It is possible that the tape is referring to a late January power-sharing deal which was rejected by opposition leaders, the Daily Beast reports. Pyatt expressed concern about “troubles in the marriage” inside the opposition, and Nuland warns Pyatt against allowing opposition leader Vitali Klitschko to be deputy prime minister, since he would not get along with opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom she considers would be the head of the new government,
“Exactly. We’ve got to do something to make this thing stick together, because if it does start to gain altitude, the Russians will try to do something behind the scenes to torpedo it,” Pyatt said.
The Daily Beast quoted Toby Gati, former White House senior director for Russia, saying that Nuland was just recognizing that the EU was becoming an obstacle for deal-making in Ukraine. Nuland “was expressing in shortened form the frustration with the inability of the EU to come up with any kind of sugar to make the medicine go down,” said Gati. “What she is saying is we’ve got a crisis here, we’ve got to move, we can’t go by EU business as usual.”