Americans are not particularly praised for the subtlety of some of their favorite expressions, in particular the use of the F-word. One would, however, expect that the State Department might train its leadership in 101: Using non-offensive language in international relations.. If the course exists, Victoria Nuland, a career Senior Officer of the United States Foreign Service who became Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, certainly forgot how to apply it.
In a conversation with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Patt, she was caught (probably by the Russian secret services), telling him "Fuck the EU." This conversation is available on YouTube.
This conversation raises a serious question about the judgment of the Assistant Secretary of State in dealing with the complexities of Europe and the difficult Ukrainian issue. According to Reuters, "In a separate leaked recording, an Ashton aide is overheard complaining about the United States for telling Ukrainian opposition members that Brussels was 'soft' in its reluctance to impose measures such as sanctions to hurt the pro-Russian government."
If the United States believe that is the way to increase their influence in the region, they are missing the point.
Ukraine is key to the world balance of power
Ukraine is itself a complex country: 17 percent of its population is ethnically Russian. It is an Eastern Orthodox Christianity religion. It also depends entirely on Russian gas and hosts in an "independent republic" the Crimean-based Russian fleet in Sevastopol. Its population feels largely European and the 1.7-1.8 people million strong Ukrainian diaspora is present and active in North America where 1 million of them are living.
Its borders include Russia, Belarus and four EU countries. The relationship with Poland is particularly critical and Poland has been pleading for negotiations to include Ukraine in the EU ever since it joined the European Union. That is exactly what was going on when the Ukrainian Parliament turned its back to the EU.
U.S.: An Elephant in a China Shop. (Vladimir Putin)
U.S. diplomacy completely failed in its efforts to play a role in the current quasi-revolutionary situation, where Ukrainians are resisting the effort of their government to increase their relationship with Russia to the detriment of an EU partnership.
Rather than supporting the EU, the U.S. tried to create a role for itself. After accusing the EU of interfering, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened the U.S. to retaliate for meddling in the Ukrainian situation.
The U.S. should support the EU diplomatic efforts to find a compromise that would take into consideration the aspirations towards Europe while integrating the economic and military situation, rather than acting like an elephant in a china shop.
Germany is Exasperated by the United States.
Needless to say, the leak by the Russians as Victoria Nuland was landing for talks in Kiev, infuriated the European Union. The U.S. shouldn't interfere in EU-Ukraine relations, said European President, Herman Van Rompuy.
More importantly, Angela Merkel, the strongest leader of Europe and the leader of one of the strongest U.S. allies in Europe has not yet swallowed the pill of the NSA surveillance of her cellphone. These leaks added insult to injury. She was prompt to condemn the statement by Victoria Nuland as unacceptable.
In a rude, undiplomatic and stupid comment that demonstrates that she has no understanding of the complexity of the Ukrainian situation, Victoria Nuland, who desperately tried to play down the effect of her comments, managed to alienate the Russians, the Ukrainian opposition, the European Union and Germany. It might be worth the Guinness Book of Records under the wording: maximum damage in three words.
Interestingly, the State Department did not even try to apologize or distance itself. Is fucking the EU the new European policy of the U.S. Government?