Moscow in winter. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland on Thursday about an editorial in Pravda which said that the United States, “the Brits and the French” are in an axis conspiring against Russia and coined an acronym for the conspirators.

The acronym was FUKUS, Lee said, “the F being France, the U.K. and the U.S.” and . . .

“Can you say the name of the acronym again?” Nuland asked as the place erupted in laughter.

Lee obliged and noted, “You could have an alternate pronunciation,” as the laughter continued.

“First, Matt,” Nuland responded, “let me just say that I clearly owe you at least two, if not three, rounds of drinks for yourself and all your friends for your candor here in my briefing room.”

Nuland, a former ambassador to NATO, said department officials had seen the article, which she said “speaks to what passes for news in Pravda” these days. Pravda, big in Soviet days, means “truth.”