A diplomat has apparently been caught out saying something very undiplomatic.
“Fuck the EU,” the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland reportedly said in a private telephone call that was intercepted and leaked online.
The bugged phone conversation, apparently with the US ambassador to Ukraine, was reportedly referring to slow-moving European efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
In the video, the female speaker can be heard mentioning the UN and its possible role in trying to find a solution to the Ukraine troubles.
She says: "So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the UN help glue it and you know..." she then dismisses the EU rather passionately.
The male replies: "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."
The White House has immediately blamed Russia for bugging and leaking the embarrassing telephone conversation.
Russia and the US have accused each other and the EU of meddling in Ukraine.
State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki suggested that the tape could have been leaked by Moscow, pointing out that a senior Russian official was one of the first to draw attention to the audio.
She said: "We think this is a new low in Russian trade-craft. This is something they've been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about."
White House spokesman Jay Carney added: "I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia's role."
An aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin shared the clip on Twitter Wednesday before it had gained widespread notice. “Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU,” he wrote.
Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU (3:01) http://t.co/ifsuc44d14— Dmitry Loskutov (@DLoskutov) February 6, 2014
US officials refused to confirm or deny the tape's authenticity, but Ms Psaki said: "I didn't say it was inauthentic."
The US said Ms Nuland had "apologised for these reported comments".