Victoria Nuland

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Victoria Nuland
Victoria Nuland State Department.jpg
Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
In office
May 31, 2011 – February 11, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Philip J. Crowley
Succeeded by Jennifer Psaki
18th United States Permanent Representative to NATO
In office
June 20, 2005 – May 2, 2008
President George W. Bush
Preceded by R. Nicholas Burns
Succeeded by Kurt Volker
Personal details
Born Victoria Jane Nuland
1961 (age 52–53)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s) Robert Kagan
Alma mater Brown University
Profession Diplomat
Religion Judaism

Victoria Jane Nuland (born 1961) is the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Nuland is the daughter of Yale bioethics and medicine professor Sherwin B. Nuland, whose original surname was Nudelman. Victoria’s paternal grandfather was Meyer Nudelman from a family of Jewish immigrants who came to New York City from the Russian Empire.[2]
Victoria Nuland graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in 1979 and has a B.A. from Brown University. Nuland speaks Russian, French, and a little Chinese. Nuland has two children. Nuland’s husband is historian Robert Kagan, Council on Foreign Relations member, and co-founders of the think-tank "Project for the New American Century" (PNAC). The PNAC called for, among other things, regime change in Iraq and a strategy for securing global control.

Career[edit]

Nuland is a career Senior Officer of the United States Foreign Service and has worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations. During the Bill Clinton administration, Nuland was chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott before moving on to serve as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and then as U.S. ambassador to NATO. During the Barack Obama administration, she was special envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe before assuming the position of State Department spokesperson in summer 2011, which she held until February 2013.[3]

Assistant Secretary[edit]

She was nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in May 2013 and sworn in to fill that role in September 2013.[4]

Controversy[edit]

2012 Benghazi attack[edit]

Nuland has emerged as one of the key figures who have been accused by various sources of initiating a cover up of the 2012 Benghazi attack. After reading the first draft of the State Department talking points that stated that the incident was a coordinated terrorist attack, she sent a message writing that they "could be abused by members of Congress to beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings so why would we want to seed the Hill."[5] After this memo former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was given talking points that formed the basis of her statements on This Week with George Stephanopoulos,[6] Meet the Press,[7] State of the Union with Candy Crowley,[8] and Fox News Sunday.[9][10] Critics had argued that Nuland's nomination as Assistant Secretary of State would come up against firm opposition from Republicans, based on her role in the Benghazi controversy.[11]

2013 Nuland distributes cookies to protestors in Kiev[edit]

In December 2013 Nuland distributed cookies to protestors in Kiev's Maidan Square. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev criticised this as interference in the affairs of a sovereign state. [12]

Victoria Nuland spoke at "Ukraine in Washington 2013" conference organized by US-Ukraine Foundation on December 13th 2013. The aim of the presentation was to announce Washington’s plan to provide funding in order to install ’a good form of democracy’: "Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We’ve invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine."[13][14]

2014 Nuland's controversial reference to the European Union[edit]

On February 6, 2014,[nb 1] Nuland was alleged to have made an obscene reference to the European Union which caused a diplomatic scandal when one version of her January 28, 2014 telephone conversation with the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, was broadcast on YouTube.[16][nb 2] Nuland was discussing with Pyatt her plans for the role of the Ukrainian opposition leaders in the country’s coming government and the crises in Ukraine. Nuland said Vitali Klitschko should not be allowed into the government because he was too inexperienced, but that the coming PM should seek advice from Svoboda four times per week.[18] Subsequently, in one version of the call, Nuland stated that she preferred the United Nations as mediator, instead of the European Union, adding "Fuck the EU" and Pyatt responded, "Oh, exactly ...".[nb 3][19][20][21] "She has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course has apologized", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.[22][nb 4] A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stated on the same day that the EU would not comment on a "leaked alleged" conversation.[17][nb 5] The next day a spokeswoman, Christiane Wirtz, stated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel termed Nuland's remark "absolutely unacceptable".[26][29][30][31] Furthermore, the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has also condemned the remark as "unacceptable".[32] Le Monde newspaper has labeled the familiarity with which she referred to the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition ("Yats" for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, "Klitsch" for Vitali Klitschko) as clumsiness and even arrogance.[32]

Multiple versions of the phone recording[edit]

There are at least two versions of the audio recording of the Nuland-Pyatt conversation in circulation at YouTube and elsewhere, with quite different meanings.

The wording and syntax of one of them, that was published on 7 February 2014 by GlobalTVz,[33] reveals that Nuland's expletive remark can be understood not as her insulting the EU, but rather as her response to Pyatt's statement that the Russians will try to torpedo the process of increasing EU influence in Ukraine. She is agreeing with Pyatt, and her expletive expresses her agreement with his view that the Russians don't care what the EU thinks or does.

In other versions of the audio recording, for example that transcribed on the BBC website,[34] location of the F*** phrase is such that it expresses Nuland's own opinion of the EU. This is the version that has been most widely circulated by the BBC and other press sources, and that has caused the diplomatic storm.

GlobalTVz version (archive.org recording and transcription) Version used by the BBC and others
Nuland: Can't remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning? Nuland: [A click can be heard] I can't remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?
Pyatt: Yeah I saw that. Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.
Nuland: He's now gotten both Serry and Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. Nuland: He's now gotten both Serry and Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday.
Pyatt: Okay. Pyatt: Okay.
Nuland: So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Nuland: So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.
Pyatt: No, exactly.
Pyatt: And I think we've got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. Pyatt: And I think 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, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.
Pyatt: And again the fact that this is out there right now, I'm still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych (garbled) that....
Nuland: Fuck the EU.
Pyatt: No, exactly.
Pyatt: And again, the fact that this is out there right now, I'm still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovitch [did] that....

It is not presently known which version, if either, corresponds to what Nuland and Pyatt actually said. The fact that various versions of this controversial recording are in circulation has not (as of 28 Feb 2014) been publicly addressed or investigated. It is part of the larger "cui bono" question about who recorded and who released this phone conversation. Nuland herself said that the recordings demonstrated "impressive tradecraft."[35]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ After having held talks with President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev.[15]
  2. ^ On a YouTube account, which (according to Reuters) had previously carried "video showing Euromaidan protesters in a poor light".[17]
  3. ^ Pyatt responded "Oh, exactly, and I think we've got to do something...."[16]
  4. ^ The U.S. State Department later said Nuland had apologized. Either Nuland was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine, or alternatively she was paraphrasing Pyatt's remark that the Russians would be trying to torpedo EU efforts. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional.[23] "She has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course has apologized", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.[24] Asked whether the recording posted on YouTube was authentic, Psaki said: "I didn't say it was inauthentic."[25] White House spokesman Jay Carney alleged that because it had been "tweeted out by the Russian government, it says something about Russia's role".[25] Aide (to Deputy Prime Minister of Russian Government Dmitry Rogozin[26]) Dmitry Loskutov, who was one of the first to draw attention to the posting that he "had stumbled across it while surfing a social networking website",[26] told Associated Press that neither he nor his government had leaked the conversation.[27] The same YouTube account posted also on February 6, 2014 an alleged conversation between two EU officials complaining about U.S. criticism on not supporting sanctions on Ukrainian individuals in response violence against Euromaidan protesters.[17]
  5. ^ She declined comment on the second recording (the one purporting to be a conversation between two EU officials).[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bureau of Public Affairs Front Office Changes". 
  2. ^ Nuland, Sherwin B. Lost in America: A Journey with My Father
  3. ^ "Victoria Nuland to be State Department spokesman". Foreign Policy. May 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Obama nominates Nuland for assistant secretary of state". Politico. May 23, 2013.  Her confirmation hearing is scheduled for July 11 [1].
  5. ^ 'Benghazi attack: State Department pushed for changes in the administration's talking points" Washington Post May 10, 2013. Retrieved on May 10, 2013
  6. ^ "'This Week' Transcript: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice". ABC News. September 16, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ "September 16: Benjamin Netanyahu, Susan Rice, Keith Ellison, Peter King, Bob Woodward, Jeffrey Goldberg, Andrea Mitchell". NBC News. September 16, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Interview with Benjamin Netanyahu; Interview with Susan Rice; Interview with Nancy Pelosi; Interview with Rudy Giuliani". CNN. September 16, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Amb. Susan Rice, Rep. Mike Rogers discuss violence against Americans in the Middle East". Fox News. September 16, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  10. ^ Tapper, Jake (September 16, 2012). "Ambassador Susan Rice: Libya Attack Not Premeditated". ABC News. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Fox Smears State Department Official Amid Nomination For Role In Benghazi Talking Points". Media Matters. May 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_12_14/Nulands-cookies-as-illustration-of-Wests-policy-of-non-interference-in-Ukraine-8449/
  13. ^ Victoria Nuland: Assistant Secretary Nuland at U.S.-Ukraine Remarks at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Conference. December 13, 2013
  14. ^ « Victoria Nuland at "Ukraine in Washington 2013": Ukrainians deserve a government that respects them » on YouTube
  15. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Leaked phone call embarrasses US". BBC News. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Dean Huffman (February 6, 2014). "Puppets of the Maidan". YouTube. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c Leaked audio reveals embarrassing US exchange on Ukraine, EU, Reuters (6 February 2014)
  18. ^ "'F**k the EU': Snr US State Dept. official caught in alleged phone chat on Ukraine author=RT". 
  19. ^ Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call, BBC News (7 February 2014)
  20. ^ "Top US diplomat for Europe caught swearing about EU". news.yahoo.com. AFP. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  21. ^ Atlas, Terry; Gaouette, Nicole (February 6, 2013). / "Intercepted Phone Call Shows U.S. Role in Ukraine". bloomberg.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  22. ^ AFP (February 6, 2014). "Top US diplomat for Europe sorry for cursing the EU". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  23. ^ Gearan, Anne. In recording of U.S. diplomat, blunt talk on Ukraine, Washington Post, February 6, 2014.
  24. ^ "Top US diplomat for Europe sorry for cursing the EU". news.yahoo.com. AFP. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b / "US blames Russia for leak of undiplomatic language from top official". Guardian. AFP. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b c Angela Merkel: Victoria Nuland's remarks on EU are unacceptable, The Guardian (7 February 2014)
  27. ^ Victoria Nuland gaffe: Angela Merkel condemns EU insult, BBC News (7 February 2014)
  28. ^ Yanukovych In Sochi To Meet Putin; U.S. Apologizes To EU Over Leaked Call, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (7 February 2014)
  29. ^ Balmforth, Richard; Zinets, Natalia (February 7, 2014). "U.S. diplomat plays down leaked call; Germany's Merkel angry". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Victoria Nuland gaffe: Angela Merkel condemns EU insult". BBC News. February 7, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Reaktion auf US-Diplomatin: Merkel findet "Fuck the EU"-Beleidigung inakzeptabel". spiegel.de. Reuters/dpa/AFP. February 7, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b (French) Sylvie Kauffmann, Les cinq leçons du « fuck the EU ! » d'une diplomate américaine, Le Monde, 9 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-09
  33. ^ "Fuck The EU! Exactly! Victoria Nuland & Geoffrey Pyatt". Retrieved 07 February 2014.  , includes a transcription of this version.
  34. ^ Mardell, Mark (7 February 2014). "BBC Nuland Report". BBC website. 
  35. ^ "BBC website: "Impressive Tradecraft"". Retrieved 8 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
R. Nicholas Burns
U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO
2005–2008
Succeeded by
Kurt Volker
Government offices
Preceded by
Philip Gordon
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
18 September 2013– incumbent
Succeeded by
incumbent