It was the “f**k” heard round the world. But did anyone truly grasp what the expletive really meant?
Foreign affairs specialists snickered last week as an unknown source released a recording of Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. State Department, saying, “F**k the EU.” Nuland used the expletive during a phone discussion of potential arrangements for overseeing a political transition in Ukraine, which has been in turmoil since its government rejected an economic deal with Brussels under Russian pressure last year. European Union officials including the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have been doing their best to try to handle the chaos.
Speaking to the American ambassador in Kiev in a phone call that was later leaked online, Nuland observed that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could play a greater role in the crisis. She noted that Ban was willing to deploy his envoy Robert Serry, a Dutch diplomat who has been serving with the U.N. in the Middle East, to “glue” together a political settlement involving Ukraine’s rivalry-prone opposition leaders. This, she thought, would be “great” and—cue the F-word—might cut the EU out of the crisis.