A career diplomat who speaks Russian and French, Nuland has served
near the top of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus for years,
including a stint performing the high-wire act of State Department
The daughter of an eminent Yale University professor, she landed in
some hot water this week when a recording of a mobile phone call
surfaced on the internet and caught her saying "Fuck the EU."
It is the kind of remark, former officials said, that is often made
privately in Washington and that might even win Nuland some quiet
applause, but its appearance on YouTube and its promotion by a
Russian official embarrassed the State Department and raised
questions about its security procedures.
U.S. officials have not questioned the authenticity of the
recording, which so irked German Chancellor Angela Merkel that her
spokeswoman said she found it "totally unacceptable."
Nor have U.S. officials hidden their belief that the recording was
likely made by the intelligence services of Russia, where Nuland
served early in her career.
There was no sign on Friday that Nuland's job was in jeopardy.
There seems to be little love lost between the Kremlin and Nuland,
at least to judge by an anecdote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
told about one of his early meetings last year with Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Nuland had recently left her post as the State Department
spokeswoman and so was not at her normal spot around the table.
"Lavrov looked at my staff, and he said to me, 'John, I see you
finally fired that Toria Nuland'," Kerry said at Nuland's September
18 swearing-in ceremony.
"And I took great pleasure in looking at him and saying, 'No, I
promoted her,'" Kerry added, prompting laughter from scores of
diplomats, U.S. officials, journalists and family members who came
to the State Department witness the event.
PRACTICING RUSSIAN ON FISHING TRAWLER
A career diplomat who spent months polishing her Russian by working
on a Soviet fishing trawler, Nuland has served conservatives such as
Dick Cheney when he was vice president and liberals including former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"As the most prominent member of the unique — some might even say
improbable — ... Dick Cheney-Hillary Clinton Alumni Association she
has earned the trust and confidence of Democrats and Republicans
alike," Kerry said.
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Nuland's assignments have included several plum posts, among them
ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (2005-2008)
and, early in her career, chief of staff to former Deputy Secretary
of State Strobe Talbott (1993-1996).
She has said that her most formative experience as a young diplomat
was standing in the rain in Moscow in August 1991 as a quarter of a
million people gathered to reject a coup attempt against former
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The diplomat comes from a distinguished intellectual family. Her
father, a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, is the
author of "How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter" which
won the prestigious U.S. National Book Award.
Her father-in-law, Donald Kagan, is a Yale historian well known for
writing on the Peloponnesian War.
Nuland is not the only member of the family to have ruffled European
Her husband, conservative historian and foreign policy columnist
Robert Kagan, caused offense in Brussels in 2002 with an essay — and
later a book — arguing that the U.S. and Europe worldviews were
diverging. On the question of using military force "Americans are
from Mars and Europeans are from Venus," he wrote.
At her swearing-in ceremony, Nuland alluded to this as she spoke of
her devotion to her husband, saying: "He is my Mars, he is my Venus,
he is my Planet Earth."
Nuland is known for her blunt, and occasionally salty, language in
She seemed to allude to this at her September 18 swearing-in
ceremony, joking that "as one of the conditions of my employment, my
unclassified email has been disabled."
(Additional reporting by Paul Taylor in Paris;
reporting by Arshad
Mohammed; editing by David Storey and Tom Brown)
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