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Russian UN ambassador comes out swinging on leaked call

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March 1, 2014: Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin leaves at the end of a Security Council meeting about the crisis in Ukraine. (REUTERS)

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin came out swinging after Thursday’s Security Council meeting, criticizing the mainstream media for ignoring a Voice of Russia report on a leaked private phone call between EU Representative Catherine Ashton and Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.

During that Feb. 26 call, Churkin says that the Estonian minister told Ashton the snipers who shot protesters and police in Kiev’s Maidan Square were hired by the Ukrainian opposition.

Under the headline: “Behind Ukraine snipers was not Yanukovych, but new coalition,” Voice of Russia reported what it said was the transcript of the conversation, which had clearly been intercepted by hackers or a foreign intelligence service bent on embarrassing the West and its NATO allies.

"There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition," Paet said during the conversation, according to a transcript provided by the Voice of Russia.

"I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh," Ashton allegedly answered.

But the Estonian Foreign Ministry, while confirming a call between the two had taken place, categorically denied that is what Paet said. “Paet gave an overview of what he heard in Kiev the previous day. He was not giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence,“ a spokesman for the Estonian Foreign Ministry told Fox News. “We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence.”

Speaking to reporters at the U.N. Thursday afternoon, Churkin said, “As to who was the source of sniper fire… there were clearly opposition fighters who took over a hotel in downtown Kiev who were working as snipers shooting at somebody in the streets. So now it’s obvious that they were the ones who killing both the policemen and those who were protesting in order to exploit even further protests and take power by force to execute this coup in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately that transcript, which created quite a stir in Russian and some European media, was completely ignored by the mainstream American media here.”

The incident marked the second time in a month a private phone call between U.S. and European diplomats has been recorded and leaked, raising the question of who is intercepting the private, sensitive calls.

“It is extremely regrettable that phone calls are being intercepted,” Paet said. “The fact that this phone call has been leaked is not a coincidence.”

The incident was reminiscent of another recent embarrassing leaked phone call between U.S. Ambassador Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine last month when they were discussing the pros and cons of different Ukrainian opposition personalities and Western strategy in Ukraine.

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