The latest diplomatic flap over electronic snooping doesn’t involve NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
This time U.S. officials suggest Russia was apparently listening in on a top U.S. diplomat, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, when she made some profane comments about her European Union colleagues' slow response to the crisis in Ukraine.
Her comment about the E.U. was blunt and profane: "F*** the E.U."
The Russians quickly posted the YouTube audio of her comments on Twitter just as she was arriving in Ukraine for meetings.
"The video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government. I think it says something about Russia's role," White House spokesman Jay Carney – a former Moscow bureau chief for Time Magazine and a Russia expert – said Thursday.
Nuland arrived in the capital of the Ukraine on Thursday, the same day that two activists were seriously injured when an apparent parcel bomb exploded at one of the buildings occupied by demonstrators.
Nuland has been working with the United Nations on a solution to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. She was talking to the United States Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in the intercepted conversation that was posted. On the call, she and the ambassador both agreed they did not want to see the opposition leader Vitali Klitschko join the government.
Nuland has now apologized, says State Department spokesman Jen Psaki. But Psaki described the incident as "a new low in Russian tradecraft," another sign of tension between U.S. diplomats and Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Earlier this week, the U.S.’s envoy to Russia Michael McFaul announced that he will be leaving his post after the Sochi Olympic Games, which is earlier than expected. McFaul got off to a bad start with Putin for speaking out publically and on social media on behalf of Russian dissidents.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.