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On Ukraine, EU's Ashton Tells ICP Nuland Is Her Friend, Denies Sphere of Influence

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 14 -- When the European Union's Catherine Ashton came to the UN Security Council stakeout along with Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevieius, Inner City Press asked her about Ukraine. Earlier in the day Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov accused the EU of trying to exert a "sphere of influence" over Ukraine.

  Last week, as Inner City Press has pursued at the UN, leaked audio had US official Victoria Nuland saying Jeffrey Feltman, formerly a US official and now with the UN, had gotten Ban Ki-moon to send Robert Serry to Ukraine, which Nuland said could help "f*ck the EU."

  After two questions about Central African Republic, Inner City Press asked Ashton, you know what Victoria Nuland said, and now Lavrov's spoken of the EU trying a sphere of influence in Ukraine, what IS the EU's approach there?

  Ashton replied, "I say hello to my friend Victoria Nuland, and she is my friend. And I say hello to my friend Sergey Lavrov. It's very simple, the EU is actively engaged. there are four areas of work. The first is to deal with use of violence, brought to justice in transparent and open way. Secondly, the 2004 constitution, updating. Free and fair election. And then the economic challenges. In my meetings, we hope to help on all of those areas."

  By then Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin had left the Security Council's session on EU cooperation, as had the US' Samantha Power. But the question of roles on the Ukraine remains unresolved and unanswered, particularly at the UN.

  This week Ban Ki-moon held a question and answer session with 15 correspondents, of which a transcript of the Q&A was never released despite requests by the Free UN Coalition for Access. Ban's spokesperson, however, responded that in the session with the 15 correspondents, the issue of Ukraine and Feltman had not come up. Video via here.

  At Ashton's stakeout on February 14, several correspondents who had been at the "secret" and Ukraine-less Ban session lobbied to be handed questions, of the boom mic operator and then of the Lithuanian mission spokesperson. This, the Free UN Coalition for Access respectfully opposes, given for example that Lithuania should not be choosing the questions for the EU's Ashton. We'll have more on this.


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