MOSCOW -- Russian officials on Friday denied they were behind the eavesdropping and Internet posting of an embarrassing phone call between two top U.S. diplomats discussing a response to the political crisis in conflicted Ukraine.
But Russia's state-controlled media gleefully played up the scandalous conversation all day in a clear effort to cast Washington as a meddler in Kiev's domestic affairs.
The clandestinely taped conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt caught the envoys candidly "strategizing" on how to effect a political turnover in Kiev, said Russia Today television as it played and replayed the conversation.
The recording contained in a video posted online by an aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin on Wednesday included a disparaging comment by the voice about the
The Rogozin aide who admitted he posted the video, Dmitri Loskutov, denied in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday that he was acting on official instruction or capacity.
Rogozin issued a similar denial via a Russian
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso declined to comment on the leaked recording that was a slight against EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
"Intercepted private conversations aren't part of the toolbox that we use to assist Ukraine," said Barroso's spokeswoman, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen.
But a spokeswoman for German Chancellor