MOSCOW: It was a conversation not meant for public consumption: Two senior US diplomats discussing the political crisis in Ukraine in strikingly frank language.
But within days, the bugged phone call landed on YouTube and was avidly tweeted by Russian officials, who cited it as proof of Western meddling in Ukrainian affairs.
The Russians denied they had any role in bugging the conversation, but they clearly relished in the embarrassment of the US at a time when the ties between the two countries have been strained by a number of disputes, including Syria and most recently, Ukraine.
A look at recent attempts by Russia to jeer at the US:
Diplomat in blond wig: Last May, Russian counterintelligence agents ambushed Ryan Fogle, a 29-year-old US diplomat who they said was trying to recruit a Russian officer. They said he was caught red handed with a recruitment letter, two wigs, sunglasses, a compass and a wad of cash. The spy toolkit that seemed to come straight from a movie became the subject of mockery on Russian state TV for weeks.
Snowden Affair: By harboring NSA leaker Edward Snowden and refusing US demands to extradite him, Russia has dealt a blow to the United States. Though President Vladimir Putin denied that Russian security agencies were controlling Snowden, many security analysts were skeptical, saying it was inconceivable the Russians wouldn’t have rummaged through a trove of secrets in his possession.
Diplomats talks: In the bugged telephone conversation posted on YouTube, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the top US diplomat for Europe, and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, discuss efforts to resolve the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine and the potential roles of Ukrainian opposition leaders.