by William M. Reilly
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The role of the United Nations in strife-torn Ukraine has merely been to encourage a peaceful end through dialogue, a UN spokesman said on Friday, despite what some think is indicated in an allegedly leaked, expletive-punctuated, recording of U.S. diplomats conversing by telephone.
"We can't comment on the purported leaks of others," said acting deputy UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, referring to the recording between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, discussing their choices in the opposition to the government in the Kiev crisis.
The alleged conversation that was posted on YouTube proves a turnabout for the United States in international espionage since the release by former defense contractor Edward Snowden of massive secret documents on U.S. spying, observers say.
The purported recording also pulls back the curtain on Washington's behind-the-scenes efforts in Ukraine, in contrast to its suggestions of Russia wielding its influence in the political crisis, experts say.
While the United States has not acknowledged authenticity of the Ukraine recording, it has pointed an accusatory finger at Russia for intercepting the call while commending its quality, according to widely published reports. At one point Nuland used a four letter word in referring to the European Union (EU) and has apologized for that, the reports said.
However, when asked about the recording and the role played by the world body, the UN spokesman referred back to earlier statements, including one from just a few hours earlier in the day about UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's meeting with Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych.
"The president briefed the secretary-general at length on the genesis of the crisis and recent developments," said a readout of the Friday meeting, which was issued here. "The secretary-general thanked the president for receiving his special envoy, Mr. Robert Serry, whom he dispatched to convey his interest and concern in developments and to express the UN's solidarity with Ukrainians."
"The secretary-general reiterated the urgency of ending the political crisis through dialogue and the need to prevent further violence," the readout said. "He said the United Nations stood ready to provide technical assistance if requested by both sides."
They met before the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The purported recording of the U.S. diplomats apparently was made before Ban sent a special envoy to Kiev on Jan. 28-30.
"The objectives of Robert Serry in the Ukraine, again, are to convey the secretary-general's interests and concern in the developments in the Ukraine and to express our solidarity with the Ukrainians," Haq said. "Those were his objectives."
Serry is a former Dutch diplomat who worked in Ukraine before taking up his post as an international civil servant at the United Nations, Haq said. "So he's fairly knowledgeable about that."
What brought the United Nations into the kerfuffle over the alleged snooping on U.S. diplomats was the purported discussion about UN Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman allegedly convincing Ban to dispatch Serry to Kiev.
Feltman is a former assistant U.S. secretary of state.
But Haq said, "Like. I'm saying, about Jeffrey Feltman of course for his part, he is an international civil servant. He works for the UN."
A transcript of the allegedly intercepted recording showed Nuland, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, telling Pyatt, the ambassador: "When I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy, Robert Serry."
Pyatt affirmed he was aware of Serry's mission and Nuland allegedly said of Feltman, "He's now gotten both Serry and Ban Ki- moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it," apparently affirming the opposition members they support.
Then she allegedly indicated the move was being made regardless of EU's position, using an expletive.
Her attitude was seen as Washington's frustration with the EU, as protests have dragged on since November in Ukraine and killed at least six people.
Protests erupted in November in Ukraine after Yanukovych backtracked on a partnership agreement with the European Union, a path toward an eventual membership of the bloc, and instead accepted aid from Russia. The protests turned violent on Jan. 19, when radical activists attacked riot police with fireworks and petrol bombs.
EU declines comments on alleged Nuland insult
BRUSSELS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- A spokeswoman of the European Union (EU) said on Friday the bloc has no comment on the alledged insult on its Ukranian policy by U.S. top diplomat for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.
On Thursday, a leaked recording of alledged telephone conversation between Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt was published on YouTube, in which a female voice was heard saying "Fuck the EU", and a male voice answered "exactly", when they were discussing the EU's diplomatic policy towards Ukraine. Full story