Audio of a phone call between Victoria Nuland, a U.S. assistant secretary of state, and Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was posted on YouTube. It’s unclear who posted the diplomats’ discussion of the situation in Ukraine, where demonstrators have been pushing for the president to step down and harsh laws on freedom of speech and assembly to be repealed. Here’s who’s who in the phone call:
●Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Pyatt has been in Kiev since August; the 24-year State Department veteran’s previous posts include Austria, India, Hong Kong and Pakistan. He’s on Twitter here.
●Victoria Nuland, U.S. assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland has held this post since September; previously, she was the spokesman for the department. She has previous experience with the region, serving in a post focused on U.S. policy toward Russia and the Caucuses countries and working at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
They appear to be talking about:
●Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian president. Protests began when he backed away from a trade deal with Europe and made a move toward Russia. Demonstrators want him to step down.
●Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of the opposition Fatherland party. This is who the speakers appear to be referring to when they say “Yats.” Pyatt says the United States wants to “keep the moderate democrats together”; Yatseniuk is in this category. He was offered the post of prime minister Jan. 25 and declined. On the call, Nuland says she thinks he’s the one with the economic and governing experience.
●Vitali Klitschko, head of the opposition UDAR party. The former professional boxer is another of the “moderate democrats” referred to in the call. He was offered the post of deputy prime minister and declined. Nuland says she doesn’t think he should go into the government, and the male speaker says he’s been the “top dog.”
●Oleh Tiahnybok, leader of nationalist Svoboda Party. He is one of the three principal opposition leaders, with Yatseniuk and Klitschko. “The problem is going to be Tiahnybok and his guys,” Pyatt says.
●Robert Serry, United Nations official. The Dutch diplomat is the special envoy of the secretary-general to Ukraine. Nuland says Serry will “come in Monday or Tuesday’; Serry met with Yanukovich on Jan. 29. Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, is also named in the call.